Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 A sewing review.

Many bloggers are doing their wrap up of the year, the best, the worst, hits and misses. Here's mine.

I think I blogged too much about sewing stuff ups through the year, so I've only included one. I willingly admit that I have errors-of-judgement that turn into cloth. How can anyone not?
But I also wonder how much of the mistakes people want to read about.

Opinions please?

I can't believe I managed 53 posts this year, 54 if you count this one. There were stretches when I felt I was hardly sewing at all or at the very least my heart wasn't in it, the joy gone in the midst of family illness, drama and more illness, including my sister in law almost dying of a heart attack. She felt ill and her husband (my brother) called an ambulance. She had a second infarct while in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Due to modern technology they could relay her ECG trace via the intenet while in transit to the hospital and they had the angiography suite ready and she was wheeled straight in to the OR and stented which saved her life.

I count my blessings, truly.

Mid year I bought a new camera and started a photo blog. I have a small band of photo blogging friends that visit my blog, even though I am an amateur. The photo blogging world is more competitive, and harsher but with both blogs I just remind myself to be me and do what I do. There will always be people who know more, people who know less. It is the way of things.

Hit. My very favourite garment of 2013 was The Crazy Coat V1212
blogged here.  I honestly love it. I wore it until the weather warmed up. It's the type of garment that I will love until it falls to pieces.

Hit. My most dramatic dress was vogue 8876 the Marcy Tilton dress which I made up twice. It's a fitted then flared hippy-esque swing dress with an eccentricity to it. Blogged here

Miss.  Oh Yes, I had a few. This is probably the doozy. Note to self : do not combine batwing sleeves with stripes across the not combine batwing sleeves with..  erkkkkkk! I sort of saved it by cutting it shorter but still did not wear it much. Blogged about here 

Misses hardly ever seem to be about the pattern itself. I think 'bad' patterns are pretty rare. It's usually a case of unwise combinations of material-pattern-body, or 'this pattern looked so good on so-and-so!'

Hit. In the happy land of nice dresses, my most worn dress that never fails to make me feel good is this humble number, Simplicity 3505 dress, blogged here. I have this one in rayon and two in cotton.

Hit on the gaining of wisdom front. I made Pants from scratch, in fact my most visited post of the year was about pants fitting here.

Hit. I overcame my fear of silk and made a special dress  McCalls 6277 that I love and got good comments in real life, blogged  here This dress deserved a better photo..the next version will have one..

Discovered a new to me pattern company.  Or is that 'I gave in and tried them at last?" After all the pants wrangling I did I discovered Style Arc has a crotch curve eerily similar to mine and my daughter's. Maybe we have an Aussie bum? Blogged here

Enough about 2013. 2014 awaits! I'll sew the other beautiful materials that are still in my stash. I'll go quality over quantity and stay true to my style and my body shape put more time into thought and planning.  Maybe then my wardrobe will be less of a hodge podge and become more cohesive..

Thank you for reading and please have a happy, healthy,  adventurous and satisfying 2014.


Friday, 27 December 2013

V1224 as a quick beach dress

Dear Blog Readers,

Firstly, I heard about the floods and power blackouts in the UK and I am glad that everything is starting to get back to normal over there. It seems that half the world boils and the other half freezes.
I hope you all had a good Christmas regardless and can all blog again!

Yesterday I made an almost recklessly quick sewing up of V1224 Tracy Reece dress before going to the beach in the afternoon with friends. I did these shots in a mad hurry too. I had grand plans of doing some glamorous beach shots but it just didn't happen. I feel bashful setting up my gear in public, but I hope these give you the idea.

I knew this was a good pattern, a zillion people on the internet had said so, and it is. The genius is in the cut of the bodice with batwing sleeves that hang just right, the comfort factor  of the dress after too much Christmas eating and the ease of construction. I have never made a dress in three and a half hours  from measuring in the flat to wearing it but I did with this one. Most of it was done with the serger.

It is from the same yardage as my daughter's Lola pants here
For some shots of where we went for our beach day see here

Have a happy weekend folks.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Simple in Silk McCalls 6277

Dear Reader,

This is the morning after the night of my friend's engagement party. I finally met my friend's intended in person, and liked him very much. They leave for the United States after Christmas to build their lives together. I can't believe it has all suddenly wrapped up. I've never seen her so happy. I'll miss her.
The event was held in a lovely tudor-esque function room with oak beams and ivy covered windows. A late evening rain shower broke the heat of the day to cool the evening air down. The food, the wine, the company, the happiness of the couple all made for a memorable night. Did I mention that this is not a young couple but living proof that love can come around again? Most of us around that table were in our fifties.

But I tell you what, it was a well dressed crowd. My friend was in a black and gold sari, looking stunning. The rest of us were in cocktail gear. There was a rainbow of nationalities. It was fun.

I don't know why I have never made a silk lined silk dress before. It was light as air to wear. It will be a very versatile addition to my wardrobe.

This morning I did some after-the-event shots to show you the dress. Please excuse the crumpled dress and rumpled face....

The pattern is M6277  Princess seams through the shoulder front and back make it easy to adjust but I was wary of making it too tight so it is a little bit loose. I will do a Pattern Review later. I have some light weight linen that would make up in this pattern for a nice unlined belted summer dress, like in the illustration. Right now the machine will remain untouched and I am going back to bed. I am doing nothing today. 

Happy Christmas,


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Butterick 5850 Fail or Thank Goodness I Made a Muslin

Dear Sewists,

Once again, I have been sewing like crazy but not blogging so this is another quick post before I hit my little machine again and sew, sew, sew. My friend's engagement party is at the end of this week and I had visions of B5850 made up in silk and finished by now so I could go out shopping like the rest of the world, catch up with people, relax a bit, you know?

B5850 had other plans. It's hanging here, unfinished, unhemmed. I've moved on and I may get back to it in the New Year. I do not know.

No, it hasn't grown legs. The ties are long enough to cross over at the back then tie in a bow at the front and still hang down to the hem.

So what's wrong? There is nothing wrong with the pattern as such. It's just wrong for me, or wrong in my trial rayon, or just wrong on me right now. Whatever, it's just wrong.

I can almost hear you say, but it's cute, almost oriental. What's the matter with you? Well. Something happens when I put on this dress. It turns frumpy. There is too much fabric going on at the neck, a double layer of fold, then pleat, then crossover. The front edge is on the grain, so the sides are off grain and thus prone to stretching. If I did this dress out again I would put the fronts on the conventional grain, stabilize the front edges then do away with the lined and folded over two inch wide facing. 

On me the ties are too wide and too long. I would make the tie separate and removable. The side seams need stabilization because of the grain issues and also for the zip. I realized this after the fact. 
I lined the skirt. This is not included in the pattern instructions or layout but most thin materials will need it.

I feel guilty pointing out this pattern's faults. It is not bad, you know. Just not good enough on me at this time to risk my expensive silk crepe from Tessuit's.

What now? Many phone photo consultations with my daughter later and another pattern chosen, I have just finished another muslin of what is basically a classic sheath. 
Dear Reader, it works. Sheath dresses never used to work on me. It's a mystery.
I have today off so I am working on it right now. There will be a photo, even if it is taken at the party.

Happy Pre Christmas & Busy-ness to you all,


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Style Arc Lola Pants

Hello People,

This is another catch up post. Yesterday as another hot summer's day blended into a hot Sydney night I took the bag of goodies I had made over to my daughter. The Elle work pants were met with delight before she even put them on but the first thing modeled for me were the casual Lola pants made from a crazy knit.

Lola is supposed to be for soft wovens such as rayon or silk, but I saw no reason why it would not work in a knit. My daughter had asked for elastic waisted casual pants and I knew Lola would fit the bill. She liked the result. She calls them her sort-of-harem-pants.

Every now and then we go fabric shopping together. I then take updated measurements, make some clothes for her. In return she cooks dinners and models for photos. Something that is very hard to get her to do otherwise - the modeling, not the cooking! I've made her quite a few black work pants over the years. It was fun to run up Lola.

Here's DD in the fading light.

Style Arc Lola

Lola was the free pattern in November and I must admit this was what prompted me to give Style Arc  a go, even though I live in Australia and the postage etc is not as prohibitive as for those of you who are buying from overseas. I am glad I took the plunge. Both patterns delivered up to date styling and contemporary fit. I flat measured the patterns first and compared the crotch to my draft for daughter's previous shorts. I was pleased to see that it would work. The pants come out looking like the line drawing of the pattern.  

Elle (to be reviewed) is as slim a fit as promised, sort of grown up leggings but Lola is simply the ideal casual summer pant. 

You can see the waistband detail and the slant pockets a little better here. The pattern has a variation with zippers in the pockets. I think this would drag down a light woven but you never now.. Also because of the intended zipper, the pocket pieces are in two slightly different sizes to allow for the width that an inseam zipper produces. I just used the larger pocket pattern for all  four pieces.

The instructions are clearly written. Both pants use a sandwich method of sewing the elastic in. With the Lola I  attached the elastic to the interfaced mid section seams on the inside before stitching in a circle to encase the elastic in then serging the whole thing onto the body of the pant. They came together very quickly. My daughter did not want elastic in the leg hems.

They are a hit. There will be more. In fact there is a piece of python print rayon in the stash calling my name. How long till Jungle January?

End note: I had some trouble placing my order with Style Arc. I was in a hurry and had made a typing error when entering my address and their automated system kept telling me I lived in America. This was frustrating in the extreme. I emailed Style Arc and they were understanding and helpful and professional in their attitude. The problem was eventually sorted out.

Their pattern pieces go together well. The instructions are very RTW. The fit is true to the measurements on their sizing charts.

Overall, I did not expect to be as impressed as I am.

Happy Sewing,


Monday, 9 December 2013

Sim OOP 7148 or Lots of Sewing vs Very Little Blogging

Dear Sewists,

Tis the lead up to Christmas, in case you haven't noticed and as my title suggests there has been a frantic amount of industry at Valerie's Sewing Room, all for other people, Oh ok, my two favourite 'clients'. I wanted to clear a backlog of I-promised-I'd-do before I can got to my Fabulous Party Dress. Only ten days and time's running out but I can finally cut out my rayon muslin and prewash my silk. Stay tuned.

What's been keeping me busy?

Firstly, a stack of sewing for my daughter. Two pants patterns arrived from Style Arc, including the "Lola" pattern that was the November freebie. My daughter and I both went "Oo gotta try that!" It's like a tapered harem pant.
The other pattern was the Elle pant, (nicknamed Elle-e-pants) which has been made up into two pairs of slim black stretch woven work pants. More about my inaugural Style Arc adventures in the next post. I am taking it all over to my daughter's later today, having dinner, taking some photos. Thank goodness for daylight saving. Hopefully there will be enough light.

The other sewing has been for my mother. She asked me to make some dresses. I took over two materials and a selection of patterns. She looked at the DKNY knit that I bought on my fabric meetup with Patricia and politely said "Oh that's nice dear".  I have some gutsier brown knit she liked better that will be her next dress. I may have to keep the DKNY :) Win win!

My daughter had bought a length of shimmery multi coloured poly knit when we went shopping for her pant materials and said 'Show her that'. Well she was right.  It was met with gasps of "Oh that's Lovely! Make it up in my favourite pattern"!

My daughter was thrilled at being right on with her fabric choice. I knew exactly which pattern my mother meant. She had made many house dresses from it over the years. Does anyone make caftans/house dresses any more?

It's from OOP Simplicity 7148

I will take it to Mum on the weekend. She doesn't get around much and lives in a retirement facility but still loves to dress well. I cannot remember my mother ever stepping outside the house looking anything but immaculate and stylish. She'll love this and will have something new to wear on Christmas day.

More catch up blogging soon,