These were finished almost a week ago and I have finally given up waiting to have someone available to take the pictures and resorted to the tripod. Aaargh. Anyhoo, let me introduce the snaky jeans.
This fabric had been in my stash for an embarrassing length of time so when my eye was drawn to a pair of snake print trousers in Bazaar magazine I knew it’s time had come. Some might say it ought to have been saved for Jungle January over on the Pretty Grievances blog (yes, it is happening again in 2015) but I have actually got a pearl of a fabric in store for that!
I knew exactly what changes I wanted to make to the last pair (which have been worn and washed like mad) so I was able to just cut out and put the pedal to the metal all the way to finish. This was also helped by having bought the Advanced Industry techniques class from Craftsy in their last big sale. (More on the class at a later date).
What can I say about these? I love them! They have been worn out in public – and admired which is always nice. I now know that unless I change shape radically I have a TNT jeans pattern. Thank you Mr King 🙂
This brings my GAM target up to 7 – only 5 left if I am to finish this year. And only 21 days. Hmmm.
(There is more sewing etc going on here but as in many sewers homes it is top secret at present!)
Sorry for that title but I couldn’t help myself.
I was supposed to be stash diving and making up my mind what I wanted to make in May over this weekend but instead I spent most of it outside in my very neglected garden. All of my muscles are aching but the garden is looking infinitely better, and I even took all the rubbish to the tip today so I feel as if I have completed the task. Whoever called these long weekends ‘holidays’ was obviously having a laugh.
Anyhoo, the May GAM choice. I have several pairs of Max Mara trousers/jeans which are now looking a bit sad. They were all bought at deep discount whilst I worked for a ladies dress shop doing their alterations ‘in house’. I have been very reluctant to throw them away despite their decrepitude as they fit me so well – Max Mara clearly suit ladies with ill defined waists and small hips. So I am going to use this as an excuse to do the Kenneth D King ‘Jeanius’ Craftsy course that I have had lined up for ages . Honestly, it has been waiting patiently for so long it is embarrassing.
I have seen several reports where people have successfully used this course to reproduce their favourite jeans so I have fairly high hopes of getting a replacement for the shabbiest pair of Max Mara Weekend jeans. I still have to choose a fabric. I am hopping between the brown fabric I bought in Spain many years ago, which will give an almost identical garment to the one to be copied, or the yellow fabric I think will just be fun. Any suggestions?
I think we all deserve a nice gift to ourselves. Maybe a good time to snap up that course you were looking at? Click on the picture to go straight to their site.
P.S. I have been making things but it is for gifts so I will reveal what I have been doing on Boxing Day.
Hurrah I hear you cry! About time – Hood has finished her jacket. Yes, this has taken far longer than it should have – but I am pretty happy with the result. It would be good to know how long it took to actually sew it, rather than how long it has taken because of life getting in the way.
Now that the jacket has buttons on, and the total impression is given, I am not too concerned about the ‘correctional facility’ orange. It is pretty bright – no escaping that – but it will be fine if it is worn with a more subdued colour. The buttons (not studs as I had intended) look very good, and the buttonholes were beautifully worked by the old Singer hand crank machine with buttonhole attachment. Beautifully. Better than my computerized Pfaff would have managed despite costing way more than the old Singer.
As I had the Singer out I decided to try the top stitching (with the upholstery thread I used) with the old girl. I did the jackets topstitching on the spare Janome machine I keep as I couldn’t get a really good tension on the Pfaff and needed to adjust the bottom tension to get a good(ish) finish. Even having spent a fairly significant time messing with the tensions on the Janome to get the result I wanted I really wasn’t 100% happy. As a result I am afraid I did get a little slapdash, so the topstitching doesn’t stand up to really close examination. Step up the old Singer. Without doing anything to the tensions (and I only changed the needle because I couldn’t physically get the thread through the eye!) the result was amazing. Truly amazing. I am never going to topstitch on another machine again. I know that Melissa had made a comment about the quality of topstitch she got from her old hand crank machine in her jeans post. So what did they know about building machines then that seems to have got lost?
So, what did I get out of this Craftsy course?
- I don’t need to pin the bejaysus out of everything. I now have the confidence to use many fewer pins, even if not going ‘pinless’.
- Rotary cutters are much more useful than I thought. And a gift to sore joints.
- Frixion pens are wonderful. Really, really wonderful. A great new tool in my armory.
- My vision is worse than I thought! Thank you Janet Pray for bringing the magnifying visor to my attention. I have used these on a number of jobs since I had them delivered, and I can’t imagine being without them now. I no longer care about walking the house looking like an alien.
If I hadn’t learned anything from the sewing side the new knowledge about the Rolson magnifyer, and the Frixion pens alone would justify the cost of the course for me. I have sewn since childhood, but always ‘domestic’ methods, so it was good to see the way that Janet batched the processes so that you worked more efficiently. The booklet with the pattern gave most of the information needed to work in this fashion, but the video lessons were great. For anyone who is fairly new to sewing (though I think a certain amount of knowledge would be helpful) this is a great course. Even dinosaurs like me learned new tricks from it.
I have managed to make a start on sewing the jacket today – the Management was going to be home from work a little late so I decided to press on for a little while. Whilst I had decided which interlining I was going to use (an iron on cotton from stash) I hadn’t cut it out, so I made a start on the body and sleeve seams.
One of the main time saving elements that Janet is teaching in this course is the sewing of seams without using pins to anchor them. It took quite a leap of faith to try this but as I am using ridiculously cheap, and very forgiving, cotton twill I jumped right in. What a revelation! The main thing you need for this is confidence so making this particular jacket is going to help lots. I, like many dressmakers, have grown to rely on pinning things into place – all of which slows things down in Janets opinion, and I have to say after today I would be inclined to agree. The seams went together easily, and without my finishing up with an excess on one or other layer. I would say that you are shown a very simple but effective way of holding the fabric on the Craftsy course which helps anchor the fabric well. It will take more practice before I would be prepared to ‘go pinless’ on an important or expensive fabric, but I could see how it might happen. I will almost certainly be using fewer pins in future.
I managed to sew the sleeves and body pieces together, overlock (serge), and press them in what seamed like a very short time. I have deviated a little from Janet Prays instructions, but having cut and fused all of the pieces that needed to be interlined ready for tomorrow, I will back track when I start again and get to the point in the instructions ready to start top-stitching.
So far, so good!
A little while ago I enrolled on Janet Prays ‘Sew better, Sew faster: Garment Industry Secrets course on Craftsy. It took me a little while to make a start on this as I was a bit peeved to have to pay VAT+Post Office charge on the imported pattern. I should have known that I would have to at some point – but it was galling that the Post Office handling charge was more than the tax to pay. As I bought the course while it was on sale I really have no cause for complaint.
Anyway, I have been threatening to make something for myself for a little while but someone else always seems to jump ahead. I justified this as research. I traced off the size I wanted to use rather than cutting the pattern as I may want to make a different size later. Rather than using the size I thought I should, from my body measurements, I have cut according to the amount of ease I wanted using the finished garment measurement. The size I thought I needed would have ended up with a massive amount of ease!
I have been spending tea breaks and such watching the online classes, and have bought a couple of things that I think may be useful. The first was a Rolson Magnifying head torch thingy from Amazon. Janet uses a professional standard tool called an Optivisor, but this was a fraction of the cost and included a torch on the visor. I have used mine today to unpick some tiny stitches on a linen garment for a client – I think I am converted. This has already proved its worth.
The other thing I bought was a pack of FRIXION erasable pens. Janet uses these frequently to fine line mark points on the garment. They can be erased with a hot iron, but obviously I will need to test them on my fabric before I go wild.
You may remember I recently bought a pair of Gingher shears which I have been very happy with. I was intending to use these to cut out the jacket – but Janet uses a roller cutter with mat. I have used mine just for cutting strips for bias binding and such but never thought they would be very good for an entire garment. Well, some things you just have to try. WOW! I was amazed at how quickly I got used to the pressure needed to cut both layers of cotton twill, and how to work my way around curves. I can’t say I am never going to use shears again but I am seriously impressed with how easy this job was. Like many dressmakers of many years experience (NO, not OLD dressmakers!) my wrist and hand does ache after cutting out and this really did seem to help.
I decided I had done enough tonight so I will cut the interfacings out tomorrow and see how far I get then. I still have reservations about the colour of this jacket but it is a way of trying out this system without being in the least concerned about cost . Or making a cattywompus (which after hearing Janet use the word today is one I will be adopting and making as much use of as I can!)
….. but I got completely engrossed in other things.
Yesterday I met a very warm and generous lady who replied to an appeal I made on the Freecycle network for a sour dough starter. Several people,including Tanya at Chica Andaluza and Nothing But Knit (clearly not just knitting!) have been making sour dough bread, and I was terribly envious. My own efforts at making a sour dough starter ended in dismal failure – hence the appeal on Freecycle.
Janice Bell lives in Bewdley and runs Bread at Home courses, and very kindly gave me starters for both white and rye bread. Needless to say I started the ‘sponge’ as soon as I had cleared away tea last night and have continued the bread today. My house smells fabulous – and I am now stuffed full of samples from both loaves which I ate at tea time. Yummy.
In addition to making these loaves I have been gathering what I need for my next project. I am going to allocate an hour per day before I start work on client jobs to make this jacket. I bought the course from the Craftsy website to see what could be learned from someone who has sewn in industry, rather than just domestic sewing. I have made a start watching some of the lessons, and have already gained some new ideas (Fluxion pens are new to me – I can’t wait to try them out!). The cotton twill was bought a little while ago for peanuts from Birmingham Rag Market so if I don’t like the eventual outcome it won’t have cost a lot and hopefully I will have learned some new skills.
I will show you how I am getting along through the week. If I eat much more bread I may need to cut a larger size!
I can report that I had a truly wonderful day at Morley College on Saturday on the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics course – with another day lined up this Saturday. This course is designed to help us through the mysteries that are within Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics, and is more than ably taught by Monisola Omotoso who informed us that we would be making three patterns that day. It was hard not to think she was being over ambitious – but guess what? All three patterns completed!
I knew that Melissa (of Fehr Trade – if you haven’t been there why the devil not?) would be there, and she was able to tell me that I would meet The Material Girl there too. How about that! It was a fairly big class at 14 students but it didn’t feel too cramped – and Moni seems to have super powers and was able to sort all of us out seemingly effortlessly (she probably had to have a large glass of something to recover when she got home but didn’t show it).
Somewhere through the day I had a light-bulb moment and things fell into place. Having spent months looking blankly at these books this is fabulous, and something I will be celebrating. Honestly people, if I can get there you can too. If you are still struggling and can get to London I can strongly recommend the courses at Morley.
The patterns we drew out were:
This is one of my favourites from the book and it was actually ridiculously easy to make this pattern. I will be making this for myself at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future. I can see it being worn for smart occasions, but just as easily with jeans.
I wasn’t quite so certain about this one but it is kinda growing on me – I’m not sure The Management would be happy if I wore this though. Maybe fewer points?
Another that I wouldn’t have chosen myself but I am really starting to like this idea – and I suspect it would be useful in disguising the excess around the tummy area. Maybe. Possibly. I am sold enough to give it a try at some point. Boy, that wish list gets longer every post!
The day was made even better because my darling daughter met for lunch. As a runner she has known Melissa through the Daily Mile site for some time, but this was the first time they had met in person. We had a lovely lunch at The Three Stags and got back to complete the afternoon a little late. Sorry Moni!
After last Saturday these books no longer have the ‘fear factor’ that they had. I think just being elsewhere and with nothing else to distract me helped, but knowing that Moni was on call if I got in difficulties was a real bonus! I really want to draw out a couple of the others that I have been lusting over for months (pretty much since I got the book really) and I now really think I can. I am looking forward to next Saturday so we can actually toile some of the patterns. Should be very interesting.
Watch this space for future Magic!
I spent last Saturday in London on the second day of the Pattern Magic 1 course at Morley College. I was happier about attending this time as I felt that I had more of a ‘handle’ on the idea. The pattern we tried last week seemed to go well so I was looking forward to another day to reinforce what I had learned.
I followed last weeks ‘Bamboo shoots’ exercise with the ‘Crater bodice’ with limited success. As you know I am not exactly a typical ‘Japanese’ shape so I was a little concerned how some of these designs may look. With good cause. This is not a great shape on me, and the design was not helped by being toiled in calico, so I know if I use this idea it will have to be moved away from the bust. Anywhere but the bust. But it is a great idea and I love it. Just not for me to wear.
In the lunch break I was delighted to go with Petra to a local pub to meet Melissa of Fehr Trade and her husband James for lunch. It was lovely to have been able to meet them after having contact for what seems like ages – but a little strange to meet someone you only ‘kinda know’. Despite that it was a lovely thing for them to have done and I had a lovely lunch. (Hand made fish finger sandwich and fries since you ask). We even got to see a sample of the jazzy fabric from the inside of James reversible disco jacket. Flashy! (Glad the management didn’t see that!). I am officially an idiot – I had my camera in the college and forgot to take any photographs either on the course or at lunch.
After lunch we continued on pattern cutting exercises and managed another in full. I now feel much more confident about attempting a garment from these fabulous books. All I need now is time…..
Rather than heading straight back to Bewdley The Management and I stopped off for a night in London and traveled to Blenheim Palace on Sunday. I hadn’t visited before despite this fabulous place only being about 50 miles from home. The palace and grounds are just beautiful BUT they had the house decorated for Christmas which was just fabulous. Sadly photographs were not allowed so I will have to suggest that you go and see for yourself all of the fabulous trees, and the usually stuffy looking busts wearing turban style headdresses in beautiful brocades. Just wonderful. There are a couple of pictures on the Blenheim website, but nothing like as wonderful as a visit to the house.
On the walk around the grounds we came across this sculpture. We wondered whether the head was modeled on one of the Duchesses? Who ever the head belongs to I am very glad I don’t have the job of fitting her body (even with the benefit of my new pattern magic – not magic enough).
The following day was spent exploring Oxford. The Management had an interview to one of the colleges many, many years ago and wanted to go and spend time in the city as an adult. What an amazing place! I was astonished that the colleges (which have been there for an eternity after all) occupied what would in many cities be regarded as prime retail space. Not what I had expected at all. I imagine almost everyone has seen pictures of Christchurch College and other popular buildings around Oxford so I thought I would show you Oxfords own bridge of sighs! I didn’t expect that at all. The weather was cold but as you can see we were fortunate to have a couple of very pleasant days.
We arrived back home after a lovely drive through the Cotswolds around tea time yesterday and I have spent all my time since then getting back up to speed. I have sewn all day today for clients but hope to spend some time on my coat tomorrow. I have decided to work hand sewn buttonholes on it so it will not be finished tomorrow – but I might get close. It has started snowing in various parts of the UK today so it would be worth getting this done very soon – I am sure it will be useful.
… or so it feels. I didn’t make the progress I had hoped yesterday as I had issues with the sleeves. They are the main feature on the coat so they had to look good. How long can a person take to do this – I swear that if this had been for a client it would have been finished and without all the **** ups there have been so far.
I spent ages trying to get the sleeves to behave nicely – the lower sleeves slide into the upper sleeves and are sewn into place. This was where I discovered that I needed to sew a retaining hem to stop the lower sleeve pulling the sleeve down. It didn’t matter how carefully I did this the stitches showed. After I took them out I cut an upper sleeve lining piece and sewed that to the seam joining the lower to upper sleeve and around the sleeve head. That held it just fine!
Once the ‘dropping lower sleeve’ problem had been sorted the sleeves went in beautifully and I was able to sew the lining with the collar and facings into place. Hurrah, it has started to look like a coat – all be it a coat in need of a major press!
All that is needed now is to finish the lining, top-stitching and sew the buttonholes. All this will have to wait because I am now sitting in my daughters flat in Ealing ready for the Pattern Magic course at Morley College tomorrow. Can’t wait!