While I was in London in June I visited Uniqlo on Oxford Street. I had long admired the clothes in magazines and thought that although they are probably targeted at a younger market they were very much my style – or a style I would like to have.
Anyway, I did come home with two dresses and a t-shirt tunic which I have worn loads and is frequently admired. I knew I wanted more of the tunics and I had a self drafted pattern which was not too far from what I wanted. It took longer to find the blessed pattern than it did to make the changes I wanted to turn it into a ‘Not quite Uniqlo top’! Once tracked down I think the pattern took about 1/2 an hour max.
The fabric I used was the gorgeous soft jersey I bought in Birmingham on my visit with Naomi. I
had bought 2 metres (at a massive £1 a metre – ridiculous price for a lovely jersey but I’m not complaining) and only needed a metre. The stripes (for there are stripes) were very thin and fairly subtle so I didn’t make too much effort to pattern match. Despite that they don’t look too bad – no-one but another sewer would even be looking!
I will make this again in another fabric – all I need to do to make it really good (IMHO) is to narrow the shoulders a bit to look more like the original and move the bust darts up a fraction.
Am I happy?
Finished – but again I am not entirely happy with the result. I think part of the problem is that they have taken an unreasonably long time for ‘a pair of pants/trousers’. You might remember that I have been watching the Craftsy course ‘Pant fitting’ by Sandra Betzina. This Vogue pattern is in new sizing which relates better to todays figures (hence the name) but that didn’t mean that it would match everyone. That means me. Again.
The Craftsy course is pretty comprehensive, and I found it easy to follow the alterations that were demonstrated. I think that the Craftsy platform is pretty good, even if (or especially if) you are fairly new to sewing or pattern alteration as you can watch the video lessons as many times as you need to, and also ask questions which should be answered by the tutor. The whole course is worked around Vogue 2948 (included in the cost of the course) which is an ideal trouser for adjustment since it has princess seams and a yoke. The more seams available the easier a garment is to adjust.
I cut the size that appeared to fit my hips, having adjusted the pattern to be larger around my waist. All looked well, and I tried them on with the sides tacked to fit. CLOWN PANTS! I really couldn’t believe it – these were big. I checked the original pattern pieces and whilst I could find the finished waist size (3cm ease allowed) and the finished length I couldn’t find the finished hip size. Maybe I was just losing heart by then. One of the things that is stressed throughout the course is to avoid ‘over fitting’ – ie. taking out all the wearing ease to give a ‘skin fit’. We have all seen people wearing clothes like this and it is never a good look. Anyhow, I repinned and sewed the seams, fitting the zipper and just wanting to get this project to finish. (More haste…). See what you think.
The fabric wasn’t expensive – this was intended as a wearable muslin – it is a basket weave polyester that I found in the £2 a meter pile at Barrys in Birmingham. These are good enough to wear, but not anywhere ‘special’. I am not sure what I was doing here – the pattern by size and adjustment should have been OK but it looks as if I have made them to grow into and I would rather not if you don’t mind! I hadn’t used a side zipper in pants (rarely in skirts either) and find I don’t really like it. I could try these again with the back zipper option but I don’t think I like the pattern enough to do so.
Since I was a bit fed up after making these I decided to have a bash at a quick project. Step up ‘ By Hand London’ Polly top. This looked perfect for my shape as I could make a top that fitted well over my bust but easily take in at the waist/hip so that it didn’t poke out in front. Again the sizes didn’t match me at all. I chose a bust, then the waist was up one size, and the hips went down two sizes from the waist. The finished measures looked better – the bust was the largest size, going down one for waist, and down again for hip. I printed, taped, traced off my size (Pffft!) and then went ahead in the scrap I had found to try out. Can I just say I am currently feeling deformed. I love the pattern, and it is clearly a very popular choice around blogland, but it isn’t for me. If anyone out there would like the taped PDF (and the white/blue poly trial in a 16) let me know and I will send it out happily.
Rather than going through lots of full bust alterations in order to make commercial patterns fit properly I have decided to get back to pattern cutting. I use this to make the patterns for my clients so it is about time I sorted my own blocks out again and got on with making my own patterns to fit my own clearly unique shape!
For anyone who doesn’t have a pattern cutting background and wants a great site to find out how to alter patterns for a full bust head over to Communing with Fabric where Shams (who has a very similar body shape to me) has already done a sterling job in explaining what is needed.
I know I am late! Please don’t slam the gate to the water hole Anne – my zebras are here! I have watched in awe in previous years at other peoples garments made with animal print fabrics for Anne at Pretty Grievances ‘Jungle January’ and thought this was the year I really ought to take part. Fabric bought in December, although I did but the second fabric only a couple of weeks ago, and pattern at the ready so I thought this would be done early January. Humph. Anyhoo, I bring you…..(mental drum roll)
Zebra dazzle! Yes, this is one of those fabulous Funkifabric offerings. Just after I ordered the fabric for my daughter they announced a 20% off sale. Who could resist? I ordered more but that isn’t Jungly. The leggings pattern was made from the Kristina Shin book (post here), but I decided to add the back zippered pocket which is so useful in RTW running leggings.
The pattern alteration involved drawing the pocket shape in the back piece (don’t forget the elastic turn depth to guide how deep you want the pocket) and tracing this off using the CB seam as a straight of grain guide. By straightening the top of the pocket I ended up with about 4cm extra back length which didn’t worry me as I had felt I needed a bit more there anyway. Cut two pocket pieces and fit the zipper into a letterbox shaped hole (Edited to clarify – think bound buttonhole so you press back the fabric to make a rectangular hole).I drew the rectangle onto the fabric with the wonderful Frixion pen.
You could use a cotton or something to support the area whilst you sew in the zip but I found it went in pretty easily just as it was. I sewed both pockets together, with the underneath fabric right side up so it is still pretty when you open the pocket, before sewing it into the ‘hole’ in the back left when the CB seam is sewn together. It doesn’t look as though it will fit but it goes in well with the stretch in the fabric – you could put a few balance points on the pattern pieces to help but I just had CB. Almost all of the construction was done with 4 thread overlocker, but I used a 3 step zig zag to anchor seams where I wanted to prevent rubbing. Another fairly quick and easy make.
I plan to debut these at Parkrun in the hope that they will make me run like a zebra rather than the asthmatic donkey I usually resemble.
My second offering is another TNT pattern (First shown here). I felt I needed new PJs and when I was in Birmingham I found this glorious brushed cotton. I’m not sure where the whales fit with the jungle animals but I thought it was so good I wasn’t splitting hairs! The pattern is known to be comfortable, has pockets for you bedtime snacks, and buttons on the front to help orientate when really tired.
Phew! I made it. Just in before the gate slams for another year. There have been some fabulous offerings already this year – and some people have made loads (yes Ruth, that would be you!). If you are new to the jungle go check them out. Just make sure you are very quiet…….
Well it couldn’t have got any closer to the wire – I finished the last garment I will make this year about 30 minutes ago. I really can’t believe how quickly 2014 has flown past. And just how little I have managed to make for myself. Again. However, changes have been made so look out for a more productive 2015.
So, garment number 8. I discovered pieces already cut out in a box I tend to chuck my ‘get there eventually’ stuff into. I couldn’t actually remember cutting this out so have no idea when I did it. Shameful. Clearly I was making something influenced by Simplicity 2451 which I remember being very popular in blogland. If you have a good memory you might even remember!
I vaguely remember deciding that I needed to use my pattern cutting skills more so I imagine I thought this style was simple enough to copy and make up quickly. Part right. Once started this skirt didn’t take too long to sew. Had I tried it on whilst sewing I would have discovered that it was in need of an alteration. The waist needed to be reduces by 2″! Was I happy to know that my gym work has had some good effects. I was too late to get a photograph wearing this but will do so sometime soon.
Garment number 9 is something I have wanted to do for ages. I have made running tights for my daughter from a block detailed in the Patternmaking for Underwear Design by Kristina Shin but not for me. Until today. I decided that since I had a free afternoon I would draw out my leggings block, which I managed very quickly so I completed the pattern. Well, when things are going so well you really have to continue – so I cut out and sewed the leggings after tea. I had some black supplex fabric which I bought ages ago from Tia Knight so was able to get right on with the project. I know how much Jess enjoys her supplex leggings so I am looking forward to wearing these – they are so soft! A really satisfying, speedy garment.
I didn’t quite manage the 12 garments I had hoped to make for myself, but I am considering 9 out of 12 not too bad. The whole project made me reconsider how much work I want to do for clients and I did decide recently to remove a telephone listing which will definitely reduce work whilst still enabling me to work for my established clients. All in all this is a good result.
Alongside this GAM challenge I have also been on a ready to wear fast. The wardrobe is looking a bit skinny at the moment as I have been getting rid of things that had worn out, or that I decided I really didn’t wear and passed on to someone who would, or one of the local charity shops. The only things I have bought this year are three bras (professionally fitted and I don’t like any of them – guess what may be attempted early next year), and a commemorative Parkrun sports top. I am amazed at how little I have missed shopping for clothes, so much so that I am prepared to do it again next year. I may be a little less strict but truly I don’t think it will be a problem.
I do have more to show you – I made some gifts for Christmas which I can reveal now – but I will do another post for them.
So, off now to enjoy a glass of Breaky Bottom fizz which the darling daughter bought for The Management and he is willing to share. Have a wonderful New Years Eve, and a very productive 2015 to come. Cheers!
Well, I managed to complete the garment for January in good time so I feel fairly chuffed. In addition to that I succeeded in staying out of the stores and didn’t but any RTW clothing at all in January – not even tights or other small sundries – so I am very happy. The Minoru jacket I made was almost entirely completed from stash fabric. The only purchases made for that project were the Thinsulate interlining, the NIKWAX wash in waterproofing, and some seam sealing tape. Very satisfying.
Now, on to February. I have long enjoyed looking through all of the Pattern Magic books, and now the Drape Drape options which are growing on my bookshelf. I have been slightly put off making from the books because they seemed somewhat unwearable (particularly for a lady of my size and vintage!) but after spending all that money on the darn books, and doing two courses at Morley College (which I can strongly recommend by the way) I really feel it is time to make something I will actually wear. So….
For February I am proposing to make two garments. GASP! I have decided to make the strange but lovely ‘Two peas in a pod – A’ from the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics book (don’t ask how long I have had this!), and Model 4 ‘One piece scoop neck asymmetrical top’ from Drape Drape 2 which my sister bought me for Christmas. In fairness the bulk of the work is in the patterns with these tops – once the patterns have been drawn out the sewing should take very little time. Again there is a however. I am nowhere near the dinky little Japanese sizes. Nothing like.
Thankfully ‘The Management’ is very mathematical as I am useless and he has shown me how to work out how to work out how much I need to have the patterns included in the Drape Drape 2 book I was given for Christmas need to be enlarged. This means that I can just trace off the largest size and ask for them to be reproduced at a larger % at the copy shop. Easy. I hope.
For anyone else mathematically challenged with the same size difficulties here is the way I was shown to get the size to ask for.
Divide your actual measurement by the pattern measurement and then multiply by 100. This should give you a number greater than 100 which will be the percentage to ask for from the copy shop. For example: (Increasing 2 sizes from books largest option)
Actual measurement (98) ÷ 100 = 109%
Pattern Measurement (90)
In principal this should be easy to do, tracing off only the size you want to use. Don’t forget that any included seam allowances will also be increased by the extra percentage so it will be worth drawing in the pattern excluding seam allowances pre copying.
The Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics isn’t quite so easy as the patterns aren’t included. The blocks included suffer from the same ‘tiny model’ problem that applies to the pattern in Drape Drape. I have spent an afternoon grading them up to my enormous size (seriously – this makes me feel like something out of Gulliver’s Travels!) and the pattern adaption is very simple once you have a block that is your size. Again this needs to be taken to someone who has a clever copier that can make the increase/decrease needed for each piece. The calculations are given in the book to enable you to do this yourself but I am more than happy to pay for this to be done. It is more likely to be somewhere close to where it should be if I don’t do it!
I haven’t done any stash diving yet but I know that there should be a few options available to try these out. Only 24 days left to do this 🙂
Especially for Rhonda who asked me to flash the Minoru lining…..
….(The Management says I look like a Vulcan bomber preparing for take off. Beast.)
Between sewing and other jobs I had a trip to a library in the next town to my own. Only 3 miles away – nothing like some of my American blog friends have to cope with (Hi Bev!). Now this library always seems more appealing than my own home library. Why would that be?
Anyway, while I was there I picked up a copy of ‘Dressmaking to flatter your shape’ by Lorna Knight. I didn’t really check it before I had it scanned out, but I have really had a good look since then. A really good look.
This book give such a lot of good, straightforward, sensible advice you want it to be your Auntie. Lorna Knight covers some very elementary stuff in a non-condescending way, but follows with sections on adapting patterns to solve all sorts of problems – but in the sort of way that you might hope to find but rarely do. Bust adaptions are all together, as are sleeves, as are…. you get the idea. Even if you have sewn for some time this is a useful resource.
Whilst this book would be a brilliant ‘go to’ handbook for a beginner there is enough content to make it very useful for any sewer. I checked out all of the adaptions and found variations on the way I usually do things which I will be trying out in the future.
Even if you don’t want to actually spend the money and buy a book I would strongly recommend you have a trip to the library – maybe even a strange library – and see what they have to offer. You might find a copy of this to borrow. You might find something completely different but equally wonderful. If you do don’t forget to tell us about it!
For a long, long, time now I have been seeing a particular skirt in a number of blogs and really liked it. I loved Carolyns, Winnies, Ruths, and about a gazillion others I have seen. It is a classic. It is simple. I wanted it.
However, I really didn’t want to buy another pattern for a very simple skirt that probably would need ‘tweaking’ to fit me anything like as well as my basic skirt block from good old Winnie Aldrich. Lets face it, if you have been sewing for any length of time you are going to have a basic skirt pattern that you like – and more importantly, that fits you well.
This skirt is made from the very basic pencil skirt pattern, but frankly any simple skirt pattern you have that fits well would probably work. By tracing a pattern you are happy with you can make your own pocket skirt pattern at very little cost – and save you money for that spectacularly complicated pattern you are coveting! No original patterns will be damaged – you can use your favorite pattern again as it wont be cut – you will cut your copy.
If you are using an a-line pattern then your pieces will look more like my red outside line. Simply decide how deep you would like the top of the pockets to be from your waistband and draw a line at right angles across the front and back from the center lines (Shown in red on my diagram). These lines should match at the side seams. Bearing in mind that you want the pockets to be wide enough to get your hand in through the gap, and deep enough so that things don’t fall out (but not so deep that you have to work too hard to get to the bottom – unless it is your turn to buy the drinks!) draw a square/rectangle of the size required, you can round the pocket corners off later. Cut out another pocket piece.
The pocket pieces are then added – one heading up on the skirt bottom section, and one heading down on the yoke section. I work without adding seam allowances to any of the patterns I make myself so the main thing to remember is to make sure you have seam allowances added to the sections that you actually cut!
Once you have the pattern pieces looking like those above you can go ahead and cut out your skirt. My pattern took just under 1m of 150cm wide fabric, but that would vary according to how long your skirt is. This is a pretty short version.
Once you have sewn the yoke onto the back section, and sewn the front by working a wiggly line around the pockets, you press the seams down (so you can put your hands down into the pockets),and you can go ahead and finish it off exactly as you would have done before you fiddled with the pattern.
The beige cord I used has been in my stash for longer than I dare think about, but it has finally been made into something I will wear frequently (and will probably make other incarnations of too!). I made use of all of my machines on this project – straight seams on Patience while I get my treadle action perfected, zip and other ‘fiddly’ bits on the faithful Pfaff, the overlocker did duty tidying up the seams (I’m afraid to say I didn’t do lovely bound seams like I have seen some bloggers make – maybe on a skirt I don’t need to line), and Molly made the buttonhole. A real team effort!
One of the regular complaints I hear from some of my clients about garments they have purchased relates to the buttons. How they have been sewn on to a garment isn’t something many of them think about until it is a difficulty for them. I recently resewed all of the buttons on a coat that were too tight to fit through the ‘turn of cloth’. That made me realise I have another ‘tool’ I use regularly that isn’t really a sewing tool – but is an essential part of my box. Step forward – the toothpick.
This little gem can be used built up to as many ‘picks’ are necessary to make a stalk behind you button long enough to accommodate the cloth. So simple, but another ‘You use what?’ moment for some of my friends.
I am very happy with my skirt. But, you know I did this adjustment to save buying and fiddling with another new pattern? I have been attending a kettlebell class at my gym and I have lost 1.5″ off my waist and ended up having to take the skirt waistband in! I’m not complaining, but honestly……
P.S. I was reading another blog today (Hi Robyn!) and read a fantastic quote which I have to share.
She said ‘Stash is like compost – it fertilizes your mojo, but it’s better if you turn it over once in awhile’.Love it! Robyn makes some fabulous garments – if you aren’t familiar with her work go have a look!
My amazing daughter has upped the amount of running she is doing – both miles and speed- and is changing shape. I don’t do a lot of sewing for her as she no longer lives with us, and it isn’t always easy to see her for fittings, but it is still nice to make her things from time to time.
As she is going to be here tonight (the reason will be made clear at a later date) I thought this was a perfect time to re-do her blocks/slopers. All three. In gorgeous green cotton from Birmingham Rag Market as trials. The basic bodice and skirt block are from good old Winnie Aldrich, but I prefer the trouser block from Hilary Campbell (but do check the waist measure if you go down that route!)
This is a gruesome job, but will be well worth it if I can rely on them for future pattern checks on garments from magazines/purchased patterns and also to have patterns drawn out specifically for her.
We will be pinning the alterations later. I think I will need wine. Lots of wine. She is ticklish and a nightmare to pin.
We all continued on Saturday morning cutting the pattern of our choice – Moni demonstrated the lovely Loophole B (which I have been admiring for some time) which several of us drafted. I was particularly happy because Claire had spent some time in the week between classes using her computer wizardry to grade the tiny Japanese sizes provided in the book up to a more ‘western’ size. It is actually quite sad to be a several ‘x’ l size when I have been working so hard at the gym to improve, but I was more interested in going home with a pattern I could actually use for myself. Thanks Claire!
We all worked pretty hard, and got through vast amounts of pattern drafting paper in what was an epic cutting and sticking session! We were all so devoted we missed our break but were very much ready for lunch when the time came round. Melissa, Claire, Tracy and I went for lunch at Wahaca. I hadn’t experienced Wahaca before and thoroughly enjoyed lunch – and although we all ended up with unbelievably messy hands we managed to keep our clothes clean!
Having completed our patterns after lunch we were all encouraged to toile as many different garments (as a class) as we could so that we got a wider overview of the work we had completed. I really wanted to make the pattern that would (I hoped) fit so I made Loophole B. Others made the crescent moon, Sharp and Snappy C, Apple peel leggings, and Jutting Edge. Sorry I didn’t manage to photograph them all.
Moni sampled the Jutting edge dress and tucked the ‘jut’ inside to give a lovely cowl effect. It really made a different look and made the dress very desirable. I can see a few of these being made by the weekends students.
Melissa made up the Sharp and Snappy C which looked really fun. She refers to this as the ‘Stegosaurus top’ which really works well as a description. By tucking the points inside you get a line of funny little pockets – useful on a night out. I presume you will be making this to wear on another occasion Melissa?
As Claire had been so kind and allowed me to use her graded block it seemed only fair that she tried the Loophole B toile that I finished (we were using the same size). She looked better in the photograph than me so here she is! I really like this and will probably try it in another fabric that can be worn as a ‘real’ garment. Fun, different, but also very wearable. Thanks Claire!
I have to make an apology, I didn’t get the name of the lady who made up the Crescent Moon. It looks really good from the front but there is a whole lot of fabric drooping on the back. I am not quite so sure of it’s wear-ability now – but maybe in a very light fabric it would work better. It is such a simple idea, and very quick to make, that I may just have to try it sometime.
This was a brilliant, and enormously enjoyable course which I am hugely glad I took. This book really holds no fear for me now, and I am much more confident about attacking any of the other patterns from the other books in this series. There are more Pattern Magic courses to be held at Morley next year, but I think I will have to wait until another book in the series is published before going back. Maybe I ought to try one of their other courses?
After the course finished I had tea with my daughter in her work break (Egyptian street food since you ask – very nice!) before going to see Gatsby in Leicester Square. What a great day.
Sunday started early with a walk around Ealing, where my daughter lives, but I was unable to go far as I have a sore knee at the moment (more about that in another post – and yes, it is relevant to sewing). Darling J, who didn’t really cook at all when she lived with us, cooked me a lovely breakfast before we went to the V&A to see the Bowie exhibition. Boy, have I been looking forward to that! Inevitably it was packed full, so it was a bit difficult to see all the exhibits, but I really enjoyed it. There is almost too much to see – and I loved all of the costumes that were on show. Some of them were made by the Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto, so I felt that this really tied the weekend together. There was one particular suit with pointed shoulders, in a brown(?) snakeskin effect which was so Pattern Magic I was stopped in my tracks. I have been trying to find a picture but have not been able to get one – and no photographs were allowed in the V&A so I couldn’t take it there. All wonderful. Go if you can before it closes.
After enjoying all that the only thing to do was go and have lunch sitting outside in the sunshine, eating the best pizza that Ealing (and possibly the UK) has to offer at Santa Maria. So good, and heartbreaking that I couldn’t eat it all – but they did pack it to take away. I can strongly recommend a visit if you are in the area. I will be back for more next time I see my daughter!
The drive back home was actually very easy – no delay from the British Grand Prix traffic that I was anticipating. Guess what The Management had for me when I got home? Chinese food. So the weekends eating consisted of Mexican, Egyptian, Italian, and Chinese. Not a bad weekend 🙂
I spent a long time putting off making the ‘Collar with two distinct expressions’ because I really wanted this to me a completely ‘Magic’ garment – it wouldn’t have felt quite right to ‘frankenpattern’ this with a tried and tested shirt pattern – although it would have been much easier to just use the neck/collar measure from a known pattern and draft to fit. Anyhow….. I struggled with the sleeve. Yes, the information to make the block is in the book (page 40) – but it seemed to be missing some important information. Or else I am just dense. (Probably the latter).
I understood that I needed a centre line which was 55cm long (although this would vary according to what you wanted the final sleeve length to be) with a line at right angles 14.5 cm from the top. I did think that this may make the sleeve head a bit shallow and after checking my own Winnie Aldrich block found it wasn’t too far out so went with it.
The next instruction was to draw the shape of the sleeve cap. I was lost. What was the measurement of the horizontal line? I went and contemplated with tea and biscuits. Still not really sure of what to do I measured the armhole of the Bunka block to find out how big the cap should be. On my block the front and back armholes were equal at 25cm , so that was the measurement I used to make a diagonal line that went from the top point and met the horizontal line at 25cm. After I drew in the shaping, using the curve guides in the book, I was very happy (and not a little shocked) to find that I had 2cm ease which I knew would go well into the armhole using a blouse fabric. I was also happy to find that the width was my top arm + 5cm ease.
At this point you could just draw lines down from the horizontal line (top arm) to the wrist or follow the book instructions for a more shaped sleeve. After my short course at Morley I was able to understand the pattern symbols – it had been unclear before then – and was able to understand that where sections had the same symbol they should also have the same measurement.
The only change I made to the bottom section of the sleeve was to move the dart from the wrist to the elbow point. This makes a much less obvious dart, and also much smaller.
In conclusion, I was happy with the way this sleeve turned out. It fitted into the Bunka bodice block that I had drawn in college very well and without too much fiddling. The only balance points you have to work with are the centre of the sleeve cap and the seam at underarm point but that didn’t cause any problems.
I have to say right now that this method isn’t necessarily the correct way of making this sleeve block -only the way that worked for me. I not a teacher, or a professional pattern cutter but I know I would have appreciated the opportunity to see how someone else had managed this. I hope I don’t cause offense by showing my method – and I would be very happy to see if anyone else has used another method which worked for them.
I am less intimidated by the Pattern Magic books now and I am looking forward to trying more of the designs when I get the opportunity.