Monday, 28 December 2015

Sewing and Christmas

As mentioned in the last post I made a bit of a mess with the topstitching on one of the FST's, it is fine to wear around the house but I wear it out until I do something with it. I was considering covering it with a ruffle or trim and I have placed an order for a few trims so when they arrive I will decide if I am going to use one of those or make a self fabric ruffle. Either way I will be able to cover the less than perfect top stitching and hide my lack of concentration.

For now all machines are packed away, as I sew on the dining table and we needed it table for Christmas. However, my eldest son didn't know what to get me for Christmas and I saw a desk on sale that would be perfect for a sewing station. It is not as wide as some desks but is long enough to hold both sewing machine and overlocker and has some inbuilt storage.

Anyway, we saw it on sale on Boxing Day so it has been ordered and should be here within the week. It will mean there is some re-arranging of furiture to do but I don't mind that when the outcome is no more packing and unpacking machines!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Two tanks and a tee

I finished sewing second Free Spirit Tank the other day but I was not really concentrating when doing the topstitching on the blue version and I am not happy with it. I am trying to decide whether to unpick it all, not my idea of fun (and hard when you need new glasses), or to hide it with a trim or a thin ruffle made from the same fabric. I think I'll wait till I visit Spotlight and see what trims I can find before making a decision.

I have been trying to get together a set of TNT's and so far I have the tank mentioned above, Hot Patterns blouse back tee, Crafty Mammas Lovely Layers top and Love Notions Laundry Day Tee all adjusted to fit and all very useable patterns for summer. I have not started on any woven patterns or bottoms but I will get there eventually.

In a quest to add to these TNT's I made my first muslin of the Hot Patterns Shirt Tail Tee yesterday. I used a rather inexpensive striped interlock and while I know it doesn't drape like the top should I really wanted to test the fit and length before I used decent fabric. If this one doesn't soften with washing and improve the drape it will make a rather fancy pyjama top. The fit is ok but it feels a little on the large size to me and I think I need to add a bit more length to the front as well. No pics as I finished late last night and it was too dark.

Today I am planning on sewing up a muslin of the Hot Patterns La Strada Tee. Hopefully this one will fit too.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The first FST

I got back to the test run of my first FST on Wednesday. I opted to sew it together as a single layer, choosing not to add another layer to compensate for the sheer fabric. I am still considering how to hem it, the mesh is extremely stretch so I may just overlock the edge and do a sight lettuce hem or do a rolled hem (not sure how the fabric will behave so some testing will be required). It will probably be worn as is over a swimsuit to go to the beach over summer or with a camisole when wearing it around the house or out and about. I am ok with that.

Today I have another FST cut and have so far sewn the shoulders and side seams, only needing to add the sleeve and neck bands and hem it. This one is a medium blue in a linen knit fabric that is oh so soft. The fabric was on sale at Spotlight this week, 30% off, and while that is great I am kicking myself for only getting two colours and only enough for two tops total. This one should be finished tomorrow.

I am enjoying having my machines set up ready to sew when I have the energy and the time but I can't leave them there too long, we will need the table for Christmas at least. Perhaps Santa will bring me a sewing table I can squeeze into the bedroom? Well, a girl can dream ...

Monday, 7 December 2015

Ressurection ...

While moving boxes about in the garage looking for Christmas decorations this week I unearthed my dear old overlocker. She is a Husqvarna Huskylock 580 that I have had for over 23 years. She has been a bit neglected in the past I don't know how many years as it is hard to sew when you are struggling with RA and possibly Polymyositis, have 4 boys to look after, are doing a Uni degree and have no sewing space.

That said, I brought her out, dusted her off, gave her some new needles and plugged her in. Once the tension dials were set to say I was surprised is an understatement. Just look at this ....

She is sewing like she is new out of the box! Considering I thought she would be past her use by date and needing to be replaced this came as a great surprise. She has been resurrected!

Yesterday I cut out a muslin for the Patterns 4 Pirates Free Spirit Tank using a very fine stretch mesh. I have sewn together the shoulders and sides and so far so good, the fit seems fine and so does the length. Winning.

The patterned knit is so sheer however that you can see right through it. There are three solutions I can think of to this problem ...

1, Wear a cami underneath it
2. Sew a second tank in the same fabric and join it together at the neck and armholes before sewing on the neck and arm bands (making one slightly longer than the other).
3. Sew a second separate tank of another fabric, slightly longer and in a contrast plain fabric, to peek out from underneath this one but also to be worn alone.

I am undecided which way I will go but either way it should be done in the next few days. If I don't get to it today I have my brother in law's funeral to attend tomorrow, so I might not get back to it till Wednesday. Either way it is so nice having an overlocker to use, it makes finishing seams so much easier.

Friday, 27 November 2015


Just in case anyone has missed them, here is a link to a round up of PDF pattern sales

Black Friday Sales

Also, 50% off Sewaholic printed patterns with code BF2015 and free international shipping on orders over $50.

Sewaholic Patterns


Sunday, 22 November 2015

A little sewing for the little man

My older two kids (now 22 and 20) are not so willing these days to have me make clothes for them, which is fine, but my 17 yo will still wear shorts and shirts I make for him (as long as they are plain and nothing fancy). Little man (almost 10) is the one I can still have fun sewing for, he is happy to choose fabrics and patterns and I can make him almost anything and he will happily wear it.

Yesterday i pulled some brown drill and some camouflage poplin from the stash and set about making him the Alpine shorts from Terra's Treasures. The pattern can be found here for anyone interested .
These are the shorts as per the pattern (pic from Terra's Treasures Blog).

While the pattern calls for cutting different fronts and backs to create the upward sweep of the contrast over the legs I decided to go a different way and create the legs with the contrast lower at both sides of the legs and higher in the middle. This allowed me to cut two fronts and two backs from the same pattern piece (instead of the 4 separate pieces that would be required if following the pattern).

I also decided to cut the contrast from the poplin as a double piece to account for the difference in weight from the drill of the main body of the shorts. I also left out the side seam pockets, as these shorts were the first trial of the pattern and were basically a test run to see if any changes had to be made. Well the shorts were a hit and little man has not had them off his body since they were completed. I was a little disappointed with the non-roll elastic I had on hand and will have to find some of a better quality before I make him another pair.

Hopefully I can get these off him in time to launder them and pack them in his bag for camp, he goes in a few days and wanted shorts that cover his knees so he won't get scratched on the rope swing. These fit the bill perfectly.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Swap 2015

The rules for this years Swap on Artisans Square have been announced and, in a nutshell, anyone who chooses to participate needs to sew:

1 "3 pack" of Colour(s) A (3 garments)
1 "3 pack" of Colour(s) B (3 garments)
1 "Combo Pack" of Colour(s) A & B (2 garments)
1 "3 pack" of Wild Cards (any colour but will work with at least some items from other packs)

These rules re further clarified to state that A "3 pack" can be any of the following:

2 tops + 1 bottom
1 top + 1 bottom + 1 outer layer
1 dress + 1 top + 1 bottom
2 bottoms + 1 top
2 dresses & 1 layer.
1 dress + 1 top OR bottom + 1 layer.

Time limits and other rules:

Two garments may be previously sewn but do not have to, one may be purchased if you like and two may be sewn up before the official sewing start date of Dec 26, 2015. Muslins, pattern fitting, cutting, interfacing, and other preparatory work may begin right away. All garments must be finished by April 30, 2016. While this is a competition the only prizes are the satisfaction of completing the challenge and the enjoyment of planning and sewing.

So far I am not 100% sure I will be participating this year but I am considering it. I have not sewn for myself for quite some time but Uni is finished for the summer break so I should  be able to find the time, all I need is for the RA to co-operate so I am physically able as well.

Today I sorted my fabric stash into plain knits, patterned knits, plain wovens and patterned wovens so I could clearly see what I have to work with. I tend to buy fabrics in lots of two or three that co-ordinate so it should not be hard to find fabrics that work together. My pattern stash is not too bad, with an ever growing collecting of pdf patterns, but whether I have patterns to suit the fabrics remains to be seen.

My sewing machine is good to go but the 22 year old overlocker may need a bit of an overhaul first, I will have to get one of the kids to unearth it for me (from the depths of the garage) so I can determine what needs to be done (hopefully it won't be much).

I need to think some more ...

Friday, 30 October 2015

Stocking up during sales

I have still not managed to sew anything but I am getting closer, with my final Uni assessment piece due Monday night, so I hope to be sewing very soon.

Anyway, today two stores I have been know to shop with are both running sales, Lincraft and Textile Traders, so I made the most of having a bad back and not being able to move much today today and sat here with the lap top doing a little shopping.

From textile traders I ordered these ...

From Lincraft I ordered these ...

While I was at it I purchased a french curve and long clear quilting to help make altering patterns a little easier ...

At least I should be ready to sew when I have the time.

EDIT: I just discovered one of the Janome overlockers is on sale for half price. It is so tempting, my overlocker is 20+ years old and I am beginning to wonder if it is worth paying for new blades and an overhaul or whether I should just buy the new one? The difference between the cost for either option won't be much ...

Thursday, 22 October 2015

No progress yet

Apart from the second part of the fabric order arriving and ordering some extras to take advantage of the 40% off sale at Spotlight, including Muslin and a couple of lightweight lawn fabrics destined to be tunic tops or kaftans, there has been very little done on the sewing front. I have downloaded a couple more PDF patterns from independent designers as well. I don't know if these recent acquisitions will fit into a SWAP plan, should I decide to take part, but they will surely form a good part of my Summer sewing plans.

Monday, 12 October 2015

It's arrived, well ...

I ordered 9 pieces of fabric from Darn Cheap on the 2nd of October (as per earlier post) and some of it arrived this morning; the two bottom weights, the grey knit and the grey/white patterned woven.

The grey knit is the softest knit I have ever felt, it is wonderful, and will be perfect for a loose fit summer top or tank. It feels so good I went back to the site to see if they had other colours in the same fabric but they only have a pink-salmon colour which I don't think would suite me, shame.

The plain black is a linen blend and looks like it will work well for a skirt or cropped pants, which was the intention when I ordered it. It will be interesting to see if it softens at all on washing or whether it will remain a little crisp.

The gray/white patterned fabric is a bit silkier than I expected but it will still be good for a loose flowy shirt or kaftan for Spring or Summer. I am not sure if this might shrink so I am a bit undecided about whether I should pre-wash it or not.

The dark denim is a lot heavier than I expected and is more of a winter weight fabric so that will be added to the stash for sewing next year, perhaps.

I am assuming the remaining knit fabrics are in another package and hopefully they will arrived tomorrow so I can start planning what to do with them, I am eager to get some sewing done but then again Artisans Square's SWIG rules have not been posted yet (usually happens first week of November or thereabouts) so I may hold off making any plans until I decide if I will be Swap-ing or not.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Copy Shop Printing of PDF's

In the past few years I have started buying PDF patterns instead of printed patterns, not only is there instant gratification but I don't have to pay shipping costs either (which can be quite high now the Aussie dollar is low against the USD).

Normally I print these at home and spend a few minutes taping them together before cutting them out but I wondered whether it would be worth taking them to a copy shop to have them printed, especially those with a large number of pages. However, here we only have Office Works who offer this service BUT they are known to state that copyright issues prevent them from printing sewing patterns. Really? We pay the pattern designer for the right to use their patterns and they often supply us with print at home and copy shop versions so we can print them either way. I can't understand why there is a Copyright issue? Some people have taken their receipts for pattern purchase in with them still to be told now.

A pattern group I am in has taken this issue up with Office Works and an outcome is pending. I believe that because a customer pays for these patterns and they are supplied in this form to be used they should stop being ridiculous and just print them. There has been some forward movement on this issue but I am holding off printing until I hear that the local store has agreed to print.

I wonder, have you ever had this issue where you are?

Friday, 2 October 2015

A little shopping

After todays not so successful attempt to buy fabrics locally I decided to go online and see what I could find ...

The center top and center bottom are bottom weight wovens, the bottom right corner is a woven and the others are all knits.

The bottom weights will be pants or skirts (depending on how they feel, drape etc), the black and white patterned woven will be a summer over-shirt or kaftan and the rest will be tops. No patterns decided as yet, I won't do that till they arrive which hopefully won't be too long.

All fabrics are from Darn Cheap and as their name suggests all fabrics were very well priced.

Love Notions Laundry Day Tee #2

I whipped up another of these tops today but this time I used some mystery knit fabric I have had in my stash for an unknown length of time. I think it is probably a mix of cotton and lycra but it doesn't have a lot of drape and while the fit is still ok it does not hang as well as the ITY knit I used yesterday. Still ok but not great but it probably didn't help that I forgot to make the shoulder adjustment.

This afternoon I popped into one of the local fabric stores to get some more fabric and found something that looked a little different so I decided to get that. What I found weird was that when I asked for 2m the lady serving looked at me like I had three heads. She questioned why I needed that much fabric, was I making a dress, etc. No, I am making another top and yes I am aware how much I am buying, the pattern I am going to use suggests 1.8m and I always allow a bit extra for shrinkage. She was still hesitant to cut the 2m I asked for and I almost had to convince her that I knew what I was asking for. It was only $14 per metre so I really can not understand her concern, after all anything left over can be used for contrast sleeves and neck or sleeve bindings.

I would have thought shops wanted to sell their goods but perhaps I am wrong ...

EDIT: Yesterday I cut the above mentioned fabric, sewed shoulders together, installed sleeves, sewed side seams and all was going well ... till I attached the neck band. Ugh. Despite it being pinned in 1/8's around the neck somehow during sewing it 'slipped' and the result was atrocious. I have never had that happen before! I removed the neckband best I could but needed to trim down neckline once that was done (due to holes being snagged during unpicking). I recut the neckband a little longer and a little wider and re-applied it. It just looks horrid. I don't have enough to recut the front and back and while I know there will be some way to rescue this and make it work (perhaps with the addition of a yoke) but for now I am over it. I am putting it away and will (perhaps) come back to it some time in the future.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Update & Love Notions Laundry Day Tee #1

It is 4 months since my last post but I have been very busy with University studies, the kids, medical appointments and life in general. Sewing has been on the back burner for some time and while I have had no time for sewing itself I have still been collecting patterns. Some of the patterns I hope to sew soon are Hot Patterns Lantern and F&F Pull On Skirts, F&F Shirt Tail Tees and the Tank from the 3-piece set.

Yesterday Love Notions Patterns had a discount code (in their facebook group) that effectively made their Laundry Day Tee a freebie so I downloaded it, printed it this morning and have cut out a test garment in some ITY knit I had left over from trying out the Style Arc tank top some months ago. The pattern has scoop or v necklines, shirt and tunic lengths and various sleeve options. The only alteration I have made to the pattern is a forward shoulder adjustment and with a quick pin fit it looks like this will be a good staple pattern that could feature heavily in my upcoming Summer wardrobe (if I can find more time to sew).

The pattern is here if anyone is interested.

Hopefully it will be sewn up today and pics will follow shortly.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

6 Pac Sewing

It is that time of the year when another sew along begins and this time (as this is an American site) it is the Summer 2015 6 PAC, whereby participants declare their intent to join in if they wish and sew garments to suit the guidelines.

Here are the guidelines for summer:

- One lightweight jacket or sweater in a neutral
- Another lightweight jacket, sweater or shirt in a colour,lighter neutral or print
- A pair of shorts, trousers, or capris in a neutral
- A skirt in a neutral or colour
- A short sleeve shirt, blouse, or t-shirt in a neutral
- Another shirtsleeve shirt, blouse, or t-shirt in a neutral.

As it is Autumn here and heading into Winter the guidelines would be:

- two over layer tops,
- two under-layer tops. 
- two bottoms.

Winter here is short lived and while it does cool down it does not get really cold for too long but using the above Winter guidelines I should be able to create garments that are not only useable for that brief cold spell but will get usage throughout Autumn and Spring as well (as long as fabrics and colours are chosen wisely).

I have no specific plans at the moment but I am toying with creating either a Hot Patterns 6pac or starting with the two or three (almost) TNT's that won't require a lot of work to get them where I want them to be and go from there.

Time to do some planning ...

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Style Arc Evie Tank Top - Post 2

While I would still prefer a knit tank without a dart, the results achieved using the method discussed yesterday just wasn't right for me. It fit ok, better than ready to wear but still not as good as I know it should be, so that option has been ruled out. I will keep an eye out for a t-shirt or tank pattern that comes with different cup size options (suggestions welcome) but till then I will persevere with this pattern.

This morning I have re-drawn the pattern front, re-done the FBA and re-positioned the dart so it sits in a less horizontal slightly lower position angled upwards towards the bust which I am hoping will give a more flattering result, especially on a fabric with more body.

I have also re-drawn another version of the pattern with the dart returned to where it was initially so the extra material at the front can be gathered in at the bust level to match the back side seam length so the room is there but the dart is not, this should work really well with slinky and lightweight knits.

For now it is on to the next muslin, either with the dart or with the gathering, thankful there is enough cheap fabric in the stash to make this process possible. Making muslins can be a very frustrating process but in the end I hope to  have two versions of a TNT pattern that can easily be sewn up at a moments notice with very little fabric, so the effort is worth it.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Style Arc Evie Tank Top

I have purchased a few patterns from Aussie company Style Arc in the past and one of these was the Evie Knit Top. As University doesn't re-commence till March 3rd I decided to spend some of my spare time fitting patterns in the hopes of creating some TNT's. I chose this pattern to fit first as it is very quick to sew, it only uses around 80cm of fabric and will be useful all year round; in summer as a wear alone top, in autumn and spring under a shirt and in winter under a jacket.

As I have not sewn any of this make of pattern before I made a quick muslin (only sewing shoulder and side seams from some very cheap material) straight from the pattern to determine sizing, fully expecting I would need to add a FBA and extra length. My expectations were pretty much spot on, there were drag lines pointing straight to my bust and the front was too short.

For the next muslin I added the FBA, stitched in the resulting dart and added a little extra length. Fit is better but still not where I want it to be and I was not sure if I really wanted a dart in a knit, it might be ok hidden in a patterned fabric but not such a great look on a plain fabric, imho anyway.

So, on to the next muslin. This one I ignored the dart, simply straightening the side seam over the dart location reducing the length at the bottom by the width of the dart, similar to this method from Sew Sew Sew Your Boat. I also narrowed the shoulders a little.This fabric was a cheap and nasty interlock with little stretch but overall the fit seems ok, although it appears I need to raise the front shoulder a little as there is some excess fabric bagging out on the front armhole edge. I will wear it for a while before I decide if this is ok to go ahead and trace off another pattern with all changes made so far and cut out in a decent fabric or if further changes need to be made.

I have no pictures to share at the moment but will try and get some when the process is complete.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Can you ever have enough patterns?

The sensible side of me says yes you can have enough patterns, there are only so many hours in the day, there is only so much sewing a person could do and there is no point owning more patterns than you can ever hope to sew. The collector in me however says no you can never have enough patterns, especially when there are new releases that you simply must have. I balance both points of view and sit somewhere in the middle, I have plenty of patterns and don't 'need' any more but occasionally there are one or two that grab my eye and make their way into my collection.

The latest patterns I have acquired are from Hot Patterns; Three-Piece-Sweet Jacket, Tank & Scarf , the Athleisure big and beautiful overside hoodie and the Metropolitan Deneuve Tuxedo Shirt, Tunic & Shirtdress. I am particularly looking forward to trying the tank pattern as it looks like something I will get a lot of use from.

Crafty Mamma's Lovely Layers

After not sewing anything since I completed the SWAP last January for my youngest son, I thought it was about time I made something for myself. I have not used a Crafty Mamma's pattern before but I decided to give the Lovely Layers top a go and decided on the shorter length, with a scoop neck and short sleeves.

The fabric I chose was a cheap fabric I purchased from eBay some time ago which, from memory, is a cotton jersey. The width of the fabric was an issue, being some 10 cm's or so short so I decided to cut the back in two pieces, cutting the small triangle on the corner as a separate piece and piecing it back together before sewing the garment.

The actual sewing was easy with very few steps; join the shoulders, add neck binding, sew sleeves in flat, join the arm/side seam and finish the bottom and sleeve hems. Too easy, although I will admit I have not sewn the bottom hem yet. The pieced portion on the back can not be seen due to the pattern in the fabric and has not affected the drape of the hem which is good but as it is only a muslin it doesn't really matter anyway.

Personally I don't like clothes too well fitting and this feels a little snug, especially as it is still summer here and rather warm, but this was straight from the pattern with no alterations at all which is rather pleasing. Overall I am happy with the result, a comfortable top that can be worn with a skirt, jeans or crop pants but doesn't look as plain and simple as a t-shirt.