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!

Perth Marathon 2013

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!

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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 🙂

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 🙂

My very first sewing project

Karens post this morning of Did you make that? fame got me thinking of my very first dressmaking project.

It was and yet it wasn’t a failure!

Let me explain. I made my first anything – a dress – when I was 13. Back then in the 60’s (yes I am that old) we had craft in school. Mostly we would learn how to knit and embroider but this year we had a new teacher, who had big ideas for us girls. The boys would be doing woodwork such as a cutting board or a bird-cage.

At the beginning of the year our teacher decided that we should learn how to make a dress. It was to be a short sleeved straight dress with collar and buttons down the front. We had two fabrics to choose from – a yellow or a green waffle cotton. I chose the yellow fabric as the green was a dull moss-green, which I didn’t like.

We were all very excited and although progress was slow with only one short lesson per week, we ended up having a beautiful cotton dress before Christmas. Let me explain – this took place in Denmark where the school year start in August and finish in June the next year.

We learnt such wonderful things as cutting and seeming, finishing seams, attaching sleeves and collars, sewing on buttons and making buttonholes.

We could not take the dresses home at that time. All our work for the year was to be on display in the last week of the school year, i.e. in June. It was too cold to wear a short-sleeved cotton dress in the middle of winter anyway.

Finally, end of school came, and I rushed home and into my bedroom to put on the dress so I could show my parents and siblings how clever I was.

The dress had been a success right up to this moment. Now it was a huge failure as it didn’t fit me. Our new teacher had totally forgotten to take into account that girls age 13 grow quite a lot over a year. The dress had been made to my August measurements, but my June measurements were substantially different. I can’t remember how much I had grown that year, but it was a lot.

I never wore the dress, but the teacher had achieved something. My desire to sew had been born and I had learnt how to do a lot of things. Fortunately my mother was a wonderful home sewer, and she helped me throughout my teens and taught me a lot of what I now know, although learning never stops.

What was your first project?

Happy sewing!

Pattern Sale! Woo-Hoo!

There can’t be many sewers in Perth. One fabric store after the other is closing down making options for fabric more and more limited.

I will really have to start buying on the net as I can rarely find what I am looking for. I like to feel a fabric before I buy but I will soon have to trust the descriptions on fabric web sites.

One fabric store that closed down some time ago was stranded with a lot of patterns. I am a member of a Burda Sewing group, and yesterday our group was given the chance of going through all the patterns and select as many as we wanted for only $2 each!

There were Vogue, Butterick, New Look, McCalls and Burda patterns – 1000s of them.

Here are a few of the drawers full of patterns – there were many more ……..

I feel really sad for the people who had to give up on their business and probably lost a lot of money as a result.

The opportunity wasn’t lost on me though. This is what I bought …… I hope they will all get made up into beautiful garments ….. dreaming ………

More of the same – oh NO

Note to self – there are other patterns out there and it would be OK to try something different.

Hmmm yes …but…

Ok this is the last and final version I will make of the dress I have shown in the last couple of posts. I saw this fantastic stretch lace and couldn’t think of anything I could do with it. In addition I needed something of an evening attire and I had nothing suitable.

I placed the lace onto a white jersey and loved the look. The lace pattern wasn’t symmetrical, so placing it on centre front didn’t quite work out. Regardless of how I placed the lace on the pattern, there would always be something looking ‘wrong’ near the neckline. In the end I just did the best I could.

As I wanted it longish, i felt it needed a wide band of black at the bottom. How to select the right width was a problem. I looked through the web and came up with 1:4. I don’t think it looks quite right and I would love to know if there is a formula for things like that.

Anyway, the dress came together quite easily and I had the needed outfit – although I haven’t worn it since. Not quite comfortable – doesn’t feel quite right.