Saturday, August 31, 2013

Alteration DVD giveaway by Gentleman Jim

The other day I was reading my blog feed and came across this post by Clare at Sew Dixie Lou. So I checked out The Lost Art of Fine Tailoring, a blog I hadn't heard about before and the giveaway Jim is hosting. Firstly, even if you're not interested in the giveaway (which, really, you are if you sew), his blog has already a lot of information on sewing and fitting and such. And he just started it!
And he knows what he's talking about: he's been in the garment industry since 1961. That's quite impressive. He's experience is mostly on men's clothes, but includes women's clothes too (and in any case: I think the same techniques are applicable to either, with maybe slight variations). In the 60s he actually tailored custom clothes for major stars like James Brown, B. B. King, and Duke Ellington among others. Maybe I'll find some swing clothes tips there as well ;) although 60s is not really the swing era anymore. Lately he's been teaching sewing in Georgia.

So, to join the sewing community, Jim is hosting this amazing giveaway. I think I can speak for everyone, that he's most welcome! I'm so excited about this blog and the perspective it offers and of course I really want to win the dvd... :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sewing Dare no. 1:
My Jazzy Aristocats Circle Skirt

Jazzy circle skirt
My happy picture: too bad you can't see the
 whole skirt and my shoes that I wore just
for the pictures...
The Stitchy Details:
  • Challenge Theme: #sewingdares
  • Pattern used: Self drafted 
  • Fabric: My pretty Aristocats cotton, bought from Etsy and no longer available
  • Notions: Zipper and 2 snap fasteners
  • Did you make any pattern alterations or design changes? No changes, since there was no pattern...
  • First worn/Wear again? Worn today to work. Will wear again for sure. Probably even dancing on the weekend, if I don't feel that the petticoat waist is too bulky.
  • Total price: ~49 €
  • Time to complete: 14h 15min

Jazzy circle skirt
Front view without
a petticoat
I decided to go for the Monthly Stitch format for all my finished project entries, although I added the time to make, which is pretty accurate, but I always round up to closest 15 min. I'm a bit anal of doing things in a consistent way... Maybe it's the scientist in me, or the accountant. Who knows. In any case, I thought it was a good one, so I'm stealing it for my blog.

So, I didn't have a pattern this time. I almost said it's my first time without a pattern, but that's not true. I've done self drafting before (from old clothes), like the top here. And I did sew a skirt in high school with the same method and that actually turned out quite well. But I've never done it on my own before. So, without my mother's help, that is. But I'm really getting more confident with my skills. I have a great machine that I pretty much know how to use (I used to have my grandma's old, which brought me to tears every time), and then there's the internet. And I know where my weaknesses lie (read: fitting).

So, I had made all these calculations as I wanted to make as long circle skirt as possible to have the more authentic vintage look. Well, I know Aristocats don't really fit into that as the film was made in the 70s (1970 to be exact: I just had to google...) but in any case. And hey: they liked jazz, I like jazz, I'm making a skirt for dancing to jazz... But I'm going on a tangent here. So, I actually calculated how long it should be and stuff and when I started actually making the skirt I realized that I did these calculations for nothing. Nothing wrong with the calculations themselves, but I didn't think that I have one way design on the fabric, which means I have to cut the both sides the same way and I can't use the sideways cutting...

Pockets - what a happy idea!
But after that it was pretty much a breeze. I wanted to have pockets, like I always do, but I just used the same pattern piece I drafted for my Réglisse. I even used the same fabric as in Réglisse, the one that was left over from Pastille that never came to be... I also am not a fan of an elastic waist. So, that meant a zipper and a waistband (waistband being the reason it has taken so long for me to get to this: I wanted solid black fabric for it). I found great help for this as I was wondering how to put the zipper in as I didn't want to add a pocket AND a zipper to the same seam. But Casey over at Elegant Musings has a series of circle skirt tutorials (it was a sew-along). I used her method to add a slashed zipper and also the instructions on the waistband. Well I did make some mistakes in the waistband originally, so I ended up cutting a new one. Luckily I had a bunch of the black fabric: it was super wide, from the home decoration side of the fabric shop and you had to buy at least 50cm. Well, there's a lot of it...

The hem finish
Only thing that really took time was hand stitching the hem. But I think it was worth it. I was a bit annoyed how that turned out on my Réglisse and I really wanted this to look good and not go wonky. And I think I achieved that, you can judge from the picture. I also used the bias I had left from Réglisse, so I could have a longer hem. I don't know about the hem calculations, but this ended up being almost as long as I originally wanted (maybe it's my waistband that lowers the hem). But I would've been finished a day earlier if I had stitched it with the machine (it took me like 4h to do the whole hem...). But as I said, in the end, I think it's worth it. And when it was all finished, I realized I had a problem with the waistband, so I changed it back to the original that I had already discarded and actually that one worked really well :) I actually wanted to put in a skirt hook instead of the snaps for fasteners, but I realized that the ones they sold me were for pants and they were huge. So, not really great for my kind of flimsy waistband. And the other hooks I have were too small. But luckily I have a lot of snaps... I always buy them thinking I don't have any, but I have a lot, even some black ones.

So, my pictures today didn't turn out so great, but at least you can see the skirt. In the side view pictures you can really see the difference when wearing a petticoat or not. I have one with a bit of tulle, my mom made it for me for a 50s skirt when I was in high school. It's a cheap version, but actually quite accurate for what was worn at the time (my mom still remembers).
Jazzy circle skirt
Side view without a petticoat
Jazzy circle skirt
Side view with a petticoat
Thanks Clare for challenging me to do this! And of course Gillian to arrange everything in the first place! It was fun and I'm really happy about my new skirt! Here's some compulsory swirly pictures where it's really advantageous to have a petticoat!

Jazzy circle skirtJazzy circle skirt
Jazzy circle skirt

And on the giveaway news: I never reached the Colette Sewing Book winner, so I chose a new winner:
I will mail all the prizes this week. I hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Cape of Misfortunes

The Stitchy Details: 
  • Challenge Theme: The Cape Challenge - August 2013
  • Pattern used: Milano Cape by Papercut Patterns
    Contemporary, sizing: XXS-L (my size: S)
    Description by Papercut Patterns: Double breasted cape with six buttons, a flat Peter Pan collar, side single welt pockets and full facings.
  • Fabric: Wool, bought locally
  • Notions: 6 buttons
  • Did you make any pattern alterations or design changes?
    No changes, except the use of different fabric for the pockets (but this isn't really a change). Unless you of course count the fact that I sew one of the welts upside down.
  • First worn/Wear again?
    First worn for the pictures, this is definitely for the fall/winter. But when the cold weather comes, this will be part of my wardrobe.
  • Total price: ~36 € + pattern ~22 € = Total ~58 € (The buttons & thread is an estimation: here in France I tend to only get the bank card receipt with the total amount, so no idea what they actually cost. I estimated the cost based on internet stores).
  • Time to complete: 14h 30 min

Well, the first problem came with the welt pockets: I had totally decided to use the furniture cotton for the pockets. But when I started cutting, I noticed that the knit actually matches the color a lot better than the furniture cotton. So I decided to use the knit after all, since that was the exact right color. But I thought the pockets wouldn't be sturdy enough with the knit, after all, this is outdoor wear for winter. So, what I did was I used the knit for the welt part that shows outside and the furniture cotton for the actual pocket.

The second problem came with cutting: I noticed that I didn't have enough of fusible interfacing. I bought according to the pattern (and even a bit more, since it said 1.3m and I got 1.5), but what I didn't notice was that my fabric wasn't 140 cm wide, but 90 cm... So, some creative solutions: since this wasn't the type you need to iron on, but sew, I decided that it doesn't matter which one is the right side, since they won't show anyway. So, I cut the hem interfacing both the same way. And for the undercollar, there will be a seam in the middle. Since I totally had enough fabric, just not enough for continuous pieces.

And then: the thing I was dreading for: matching the fabric. I was going to use Tasia's method in matching plaids, but my problem (third and I haven't even cut the fabric yet) was, that I couldn't fold the fabric in half as I normally do, since the cape pieces were too big, and I couldn't do it the way it was done in the instructions (you fold the fabric the other way, so that selvedges were on the sides of the fold), because my plaids weren't symmetrical. At this point, I started to wonder if I have enough fabric to match the seams and I decided to try to match the main pieces and then match the collar and facings if possible. Well, in the end, matching wasn't that bad. I matched everything except the hem facings. But I my pieces were a bit stretched out in the process...

But: the plaid matching seemed to work pretty well, as you can see from the picture below :) Well not for the facings, but I was getting tired by then and they don't really matter as they don't show. Also, the only piece that was stretched out was one of the front pieces, so I sewed the buttons on that one, so that it was left under the other piece. And you can barely notice it.
The back seam: it's not pressed and still you can hardly see where the seam is!
The cutting actually took like 6 and a half hours... Don't do a plaid cape... But as everyone who has ever known me, might already know: I never take the easy way out. At some point I realized that the fusing actually was one with glue, just not a whole lot of it... But this really didn't become a problem. Although I might've used the iron a bit longer and not having to sew it to all the pieces.

And then, the first actual sewing thing. The thing I was dreading: the welt pockets. After the youtube tutorial I was quite confident about the sewing of it all, but I really hadn't internalized which way you place the welt, so that it will come out the right way in the end. I even searched the internet before sewing it! But the one that I found where they actually used a garment and not just pieces of fabric for show, was one where they did a bit different kind of welt. So, my first ever welt, even though it wasn't half bad, was upside down... The pocket is sewn the right way, so it just has the welt on the upper part, which is a bit funny, but I think these pockets are mostly decorative anyway, and the other one I did the right way. And I think I really learned it now...
My first ever welt!
Here you can see the problem: on the left the correct welt and on the right not...
I also realized I'm gonna run out of thread, so I had to use red that wasn't really matching the fabric with the facings, but it's inside and doesn't show. And once I had pinned all the facings, I realized my pins were the wrong way around, so I get sticking myself with them the whole time I was attaching the facings...

So, most of the things that could go wrong with this cape - did go wrong.

But I also learned a lot. Besides the welt pockets and plaid matching, I also needed to relearn how to sew buttonholes. The actual technique wasn't so much of a problem as much as how to get my machine to do what I want... But I finally got it and they turned out fine. I even had enough thread :)  Well, barely, and I had to use another not quite the same color for the bobbin for the buttonholes, but it doesn't show!

And I learned more about my machine: how to sew the buttonholes, obviously, how to actually read the quick reference chart, and that the pressure of the pressure foot is something you should pay attention to when sewing fabrics that stretch easily out of shape. I used pressure 0 and it was perfect for this fabric. Comparing to what I learned in school, I'm really learning a lot about my machine and how to use it better and it's starting show in the things I do. It's somehow easier to make better looking things when you know how to use the tools you have.

So, finally here are some pictures of the finished cape:

More plaid matching, and here the pockets
look like they are as they should...

I really like the way it flows when you turn :) The fabric is a bit uncomfortable for wear against the bare skin, but that was just for now, when it's too hot for this anyway. But if I ever make another one from a similar fabric (or any kind of cape/jacket), I will definitely line it. I was a bit worried first that I'll look like I was swallowed by a tent, but in the end, I don't think it looks too bad.

I think this is definitely a wearable cape for the winter in Paris! Which is a lot less damp/rainy than the Finnish one and thus more suitable to a wool cape.  And one more thing: This is like the first challenge that I managed to finish on time! Yey for me!

End with a powershot (although it could be more dynamic, but hey, the cape looks good when walking!)
Edit: Check out also my Monthly Stich post!

Giveaway winners!

So, I have the winners of last week's giveaway:

The first winner, who will get the pack of patterns is:

And then for the book: How to make sewing patterns:
Catja seems to be a lucky little thing in my blog, since she won the last time as well...

And finally, the Colette Sewing Handbook goes to:

Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks for everyone for participating!

All the winners have been contacted for address purposes. If I don't get a response by Sunday, I will pick another winner.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sneak Peak: The Cape

Well, I'm trying to find the time to do this. I think this weekend... I have the pattern, I have the fabric, and I have the notions. I'm still making the Milano Cape by Papercut Patterns.

Two weeks ago I did some shopping: Besides the cape fabric, I also got the fabric for the waistband of my circle skirt that should be coming up soon (#sewingdares: circle skirt for dancing) as well as something that would look good as Alma (another #sewingdare: sew a Sewaholic pattern). And finally I got my order from, which means I have elastic for my bombshell swimsuit. That has been long coming, I'll try to make it for the Thread & Needles August vintage challenge (theme: the beach). Some amazing inspiration from other bloggers: View A, the one I'm doing as well: Anna of paunnet, Lauren of Lladybird,  Tasia of Sewaholic, Leila of Three Dresses Project, Katie of Kadiddlehopper, Ginger* of Gingermakes (*not her real name), and Dixie of Dixie DIY, View B/C: Cynthia of Dapperduds (I'm really loving this bikini version), Novita of Verypurpleperson, and Anna of paunnet.

So, hopefully bunch of sewing coming up. The next thing is the cape, though. I saw some amazing wool, but that was 32 €/m, and the pattern requires 3.6m, so I thought: no. But, I found something else on sale. This is still lovely, a bit scratchier than the expensive fabric, but not too bad and this will be for winter so I won't be wearing it on bare skin.
Fabric for the cape + the notions
Don't you think it's lovely? The read is more dark red in real life, it looks a bit orange-y here. I took 4m, so hopefully I can match the stripes, but if I can't, I can't. I will try, though. I don't know if I got enough fabric for matching, as it's a bit new thing for me. But I really love the buttons. I went to a notions shop and just asked what I needed and I showed the fabric and the lady found these. When I first saw them, I didn't think much of them, but when she put them on the fabric, they were awesome.

So, I traced and cut the pattern on yesterday, and I was actually planning to cut the fabric as well. But it was kind of late when I got the pattern done, and I was a bit worried about matching, so I want to do that with a fresh brain... So, I will be cutting today :) I'm also a bit worried about the welt pockets, but you live and learn, right? At any rate, you live.

I did find few tutorials, that I think will be helpful (the written instructions with drawn pictures probably would've worked, but seeing someone do it, helps:

Lladybird's tutorial on welt pockets

I decided to make the pockets from a contrast fabric. Well, I had two that matched the color of my buttons. The problem was: other one is a knit and the other one is cotton, but sort of heavy kind, the kind you would use on furniture or bags or such. After consulting the sewcialists, mainly Angela, I decided to use the cotton. Mainly I think it's nice that outerwear has durable pockets and the heaviness is close to the wool I'm using for the cape. I guess the knit would've worked too. Well, we'll see how well it works.

If you haven't signed up yet for the pattern/book giveaway, do so now!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who needs more patterns?

So, guess what. I'm moving. Well, I don't actually have a new apartment yet, but I have given notice of the one I have as in France the notice is 3 months if you have rented your apartment empty. So, yet again, I want to get rid of some stuff I don't need. Today it's all about patterns, but there will be a fabric giveaway later. Most likely next week.

Instructions (rules sounded so formal...):

The first two are open for all, the last one only in France and overseas departments and territories of France, because of the postage costs. Participate by leaving a comment (by midnight (Central European Time) next Wednesday 21st of August: tell me which giveaways you'd like to be included in. Notice that the deadline will be earlier for those living in on the other side of the Atlantic. Make sure I have a way to contact you (preferably leave your e-mail in the comment or make sure that you use a profile that has an option to mail you), I don't really want to start looking for an e-mail address.

Giveaway #1: the patterns

The patterns will go all to same person. That's because I'm lazy. If you're not interested in all of them, participate anyway: you can always host your own giveaway :) First there's three Simplicity patterns: 8052 from the 60s, 3696 pyjamas, and 1849 a knit top:

My ideas about these patterns have changed a bit, I really love the 60s pattern, but I don't think it's the most flattering style for me and I would have to grade it quite a lot, so I think it's not worth the trouble. The envelope is a bit torn, but the pattern itself is in good condition. The other two are new, I did try to make pyjama pants from 3696, but it didn't really fit me, and I just don't want to find out where the problem is.

And then, 4 patterns from Craftsy courses. I bought these courses because of the techniques but they will send the patterns anyway. Well, actually the jacket one I'm going to keep: they sent me 2 of them.
Jacket Express #218 - Sew Better,
Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets
Liberty Shirt - Sewing with Silks

V2948 - Pant Fitting Techniques  
V8793 - The Ultimate T-Shirt:
Fitting & Construction

So, the jacket is actually something I plan on sewing. But I just don't need 2 patterns... The smallest size is quite big (normally something like M, not XS), so if you are small and want a very fitted jacket, you need to grade down. The Liberty Shirt I actually quite like, but with my body shape, it will look horrible and even though I like it, it's not really my style. And the last two are not bad either, I just have other patterns I thought I'd use on these courses.

All patterns are complete and uncut except the vintage pattern, that one is cut. As I said these come as one package: I'm saving on postage.

Giveaway #2: Book on self drafting

I bought this book awhile ago. But I also have another book on the subject that I think is better. So this one is up for grabs. You can read reviews on Amazon. And this book is also suitable for drafting men's clothing (read this review!). It's an old book (1st edition 1973), it hasn't been updated since the 70s, but it's still in print, which says something. Just don't expect pretty color pictures: it's all black and white.

Giveaway #3: Colette Sewing Handbook (only in France & DOM-TOM)

Yes, I'm giving away my Colette Sewing handbook. I really had plans when I got this and I did sew the Meringue skirt. But then my inspiration was lost with the Pastille. I probably should have tried the others, but I just don't feel like it. So I will add this to the giveaway. As the book is quite heavy, this is only available for France and the overseas departments and territories of France. Sorry for that, but I don't want to kill my budget. All the patterns are uncut and complete.

Et en français:
Oui, je vais a donner mon Colette Sewing handbook  J'ai vraiment eu des plans quand je l'ai acheté et j'ai cousu la jupe Meringue.  Mais alors, mon inspiration a été perdu avec la Pastille  Je devrais probablement essayé les autres, mais je ne justement veux pas. Je vais donc donner le livre à quelqu'un qui l'utilise. Comme le livre est assez lourd, ce n'est disponible que pour la France et les DOM-TOM. Tous les patrons sont complètes et non-coupés. Laisse-moi un moyen de contacter (e-mail/lien pour profil de thread and needles) et les giveaways à que tu souhaites participer :)


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Finding the fit

I need to talk about fitting. This is the main reason I started sewing. I hate the way RTW clothes just don't look that great on me. And I'm not big on fixing, although I'm trying... The obsession with the fit is not that unusual given my family. My mom has always brought this up while buying clothes, which is why I love to go shopping with her: I can just try stuff on and she doesn't care about the style but the fit, style I can choose. She got it from home too. My grandparents were quite particular about it. Especially my grandmother, she would never wear anything that didn't fit just right or wasn't ironed.

This is what has always troubled me with sewing. I mean, I learned sewing in school, but I learned the sewing technique, I never learned to fit anything. And as long as you're still a girl, it's ok, it wasn't so important, since you don't really have boobs or a butt, but once those came along, the fit became an issue. So, now, I'm really investing on that. I know I can sew (not that I don't have room for improvement there as well), but I also want to make sure that if I'm really taking the time to make my own clothes that they will also fit and look great on me.

I heart Craftsy! So: Craftsy. I'm a bit addicted actually. But I like just watching the courses... I started a couple of fitting courses and while I like Sew the Perfect Fit by Lynda Maynard a lot, I'm not sure if I'm learning to tackle any kind of fitting issue, although it is very comprehensive and I haven't watched it all the way through. I do think it's worth the money, though. Another one I started watching is specifically about pants: Pant Fitting Techniques by Sandra Betzina. One can clearly see that she has a lot of experience and knowledge, but I think the course could use a bit of organization. She also makes all the different adjustments to the same pattern piece, which makes it a bit confusing. And it suffers just about a general lack of planning. I'm still watching it though, because there is a lot of good information, but I think I might need to watch it few times to actually understand.

But then, I came across a new Craftsy course: Fast-Track Fitting by Joi Mahon. First time fitting really made sense to me. The idea is that the changes are made to the pattern according to your measurements before making a muslin. This way, the muslin needs only a bit of tweaking. And this course was definitely planned well. It was always clear which adjustment she was doing and where. Only small annoyance for me was the way she pronounced "measure", but hey, that's nothing really. I haven't actually applied any of this yet, but I will soon. I think I will even tackle my disastrous Pastille again and see if this method makes it ok. I really didn't know what to do with the muslin fitting, it was just such a weird fit. I've heard similar things about the new Hawthorn, so I think I will try my Colette book patterns first and then decide if I want to try their other patterns.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Monthly Stich: August - The Cape

I'm still thinking I can take on challenges... So I signed up for The Monthly Stich. I think I can do this, though. First, there's one challenge per month, and I don't have to do them all, if I don't have time. Second, the first challenge is for August (the cape challenge), but the next one for September is already announced (vintage pattern). For me the biggest problem with the challenges over the summer were that when I finally got all the supplies, the month had almost gone. Now, I can make sure I have everything before the month begins and I can actually use the challenge month for sewing. Well, I still have lots of other plans, so we'll see what happens, but at least I've been planning on making a vintage pattern anyway. And I think I have the perfect fabric too. But I got kind of excited about the cape too. Especially since the winters in France don't seem to be that cold, so I could actually wear it at least for the next two winters.

Milano Cape by Papercut Patterns
I already ordered a pattern, since I pretty much fell in love with the Milano Cape by Papercut Patterns. They also have a lovely cape/jacket pattern: The Watson Jacket, but since it seems to require more skills, I thought I'd try the easier one first. So I guess I'll be fabric shopping on Saturday... I'm thinking of a wool fabric, which would be nice and warm. And maybe a bright color or chocolate brown or leafy green. Pretty much something from my color palette.

I took my sister fabric shopping last weekend when she was here with her husband and I realized how much choice I have here and how much nicer it's actually to go to a shop where you can feel the fabric and see the colors as they really are, although I haven't really been disappointed when buying from the internet. I also got some nice fabrics on my holiday in Sweden and in Finland, so after this Saturday I think it will be more sewing and less buying. Although, as I've been reading about people stash busting and buying more fabric than they need and I can totally see the problem, but I also think you need a bit of a stash. Especially when you don't live right next to a fabric store. When you have a stash, it means that you can actually start sewing right away, when you find the time and inspiration. This has been a bit of a problem for me. I also don't really have a notions stash, so if the pattern requires a zipper or something, I need to go buy that. What I'm aiming for is, that after Saturday I have everything I need for all my planned stuff. Which is a lot. So, then I can just sew, sew, sew :)

Anyway, this month, there will hopefully be more posts about actual finished garments and I will finally finish some of the challenges I started, but kind of haven't gotten past the material phase.