Friday, October 07, 2016

My holiday was pants (and tunics)

After the last two pairs of trousers I sewed up (the first - a basic style with a back zipper and no pockets or waistband -  was successful; the second - more ambitious but ultimately fitting failure), I was on a roll. Then the latest season of Great British Sewing Bee started here, so there was no stopping me.

During my week off (ostensibly taken to spend time with TLM, who is on school holidays, and the boy, who is still between jobs) I was hellbent on sewing more trousers until I produced more pairs of fitting successes.

Trousers number 3 were based on the muslin that produced trousers number 1 (which fit me well but for which I was a bit slack with recording the adjustments), in a light poplin-y fabric of navy with with dots. I was finding it a bit loose around the highs and waist. Then I decided it was because that fabric really wanted to be elastic waisted jogger-style trousers.  So I took out the zipper, put an elasticated waistband and inserted elastic cuffs into the hems. They now fit alright, although it would have benefited from a decrease in the front crotch.

(Lesson: definitely shorten the front crotch next time, maybe lengthen the back crotch).

For trousers number 4 I used an old Vogue pattern which offered two views: high waisted, jeans-style pockets and tapered; hight waisted, inseam pockets and tapered. Because it is an old pattern. The only other time I used this sewing pattern was to make some faux leather trousers to wear to a pre-millennial Village People-themed pub crawl. That's how old it is.

Guess what - it fit me almost perfectly, once I'd let out the front inseam, scooped out the centre back curve, taken in the outer leg seams quite a lot and drafted a new waistband to fit my wider waist. Although they fit well in the sense that it is relatively free of bagging and wrinkles around the crucial hip and thigh areas, the legs are still much wider than I'd like. These were made in a light grey denim. I have effectively made mom jeans (though I made the view with the inseam pockets rather than the jeans pockets). Also the back wants to fall down a bit and the front is a little high.

Nevertheless, I'm calling this a great success and will wear them to work.

(Lesson: I really really should shorten that front crotch and lengthen the back the next time. And work out how to slim down the legs without creating new wrinkles).

Then I made two tunic tops in a row. I used a Kwik Sew pattern. It is great, except for these things:

  • the seam allowance is 3 mm. That's crazy narrow, and obviously intended for sewer who overlock (serge)
  • It was way too big at the shoulders, yet fit fine everywhere else. So for the second top I cut a small in the shoulder and armscye then a medium elsewhere.
  • The sleeve would not fit into the armscye. Both times. This meant I had to take it in further at the sides in order for the sleeves to fit.
I do intend to put some photos up, but I just can't bring myself to ask the boy or TLM to take any more pictures of my backside.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The last of the knits and lessons learned in pants fitting

After I finished knitting this scarf (from an unravelled failure. It's edged in i-cord,  but you can't see it because the sides roll in so it looks like a narrow tube. I do like the tweedy texture though - from a stitch in the first Barbara Walker book - so might use it one day to make a Chanel-type jacket).

I knitted this cardigan -
Then, because I was on a yarn diet (for budgetary reasons), have way too many hand knits anyway, I am switching codes - to sewing.

I have nearly finished a pair of curved-waistband trousers, in a stubby linen/cotton blend. These took way too long to fit, seeing as I based then on my curse-busting muslin (see earlier post). I bought three more lots of fabric to practice pants-fitting on: some non-stretch grey denim,  some blue organic cotton and some navy poplin with tiny polka dots. It's fantastic that Spotlight is right next door to the Fabric Warehouse.

Going by the last two pairs I made, I've concluded that my main pants-fitting modifications should be:

  • extra space on the inseam (for my generous inner thighs), just down to the knee 
  • less space on the outseam (for my stingy outer thighs), also down to the knee, and 
  • a deeper crotch curve (for my low-hanging bottom). 

That's aside from the obvious shortening of the legs (which are so short they only come up to my knees).

Also - baste! Using thread in a contrasting colour! Definitely not using the thread you need for your final sew!

The next step up in trouser-making will be to add pockets with pocket stays (to keep my slightly protruding tummy from falling out).

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The lifting of the trouser curse

I have tried, and failed, many times to sew a pair of trousers that would fit be well. There were near-misses and epic fails, but never a finished product that I was happy with.

In Season Two of the Great British Sewing Bee, the contestants had to made velvet trousers for themselves. This challenge was meant to test their ability to sew with difficult fabrics, but I was terribly envious that they could make themselves trousers at all.

As any sewer will tell you, it's not the construction that's a pain in the butt - its the fitting of them.

Today I had a trouser triumph, and that came about when I realised that I have been cutting a size too big. I don't know why it took so long for me to come to this conclusion, because I've already made a few tops that turned too roomy even for my tastes.

Not that going down a size was a magic bullet though - I still had to made some tweaks:

  • take some width from the outside leg seams from the hip down
  • add some width the inside leg seams just around the inner thigh
  • add a tiny bit of width at the centre front, from crotch to about half way up.
  • remove about an inch of the top
I'm so happy.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Am I too old for denim jackets?

I'm already thinking of what I want for my birthday present, even though it's a couple of month's away. I want a denim jacket. I've spent a number of lunch hours scouring the range of denim jacket styles on offer, including frequent visits to opportunity shops and on TradeMe.

And the one I want is the Levi's Boyfriend Trucker denim jacket, in mid-blue rigid denim (rigid, so it will take longer to lose shape with repeated washing and wearing). I've figured out that if I only ever button it up at the two middle buttons, it can look shapely rather than boxy.

Now, I have tried and failed a couple of times in the last few years to sew a light jacket suitable for spring and autumn, in both denim and other fabrics - but neither of them have turned out to have the right silhouette or amount of structure.

I've since discovered the Style Arc Stacie sewing pattern and now know to look for 14 oz denim, so I could sew it myself and make it exactly the size, shape and style I want. What would be great is a collarless version of a trucker jacket with waist shaping, mid-hip length and in a really dark blue. But that's never going to happen as I don't have the time or patience at the moment (and that's assuming I can find the right denim). Plus my fitting skills are less than genius.

So anyway, how old is too old to wear a denim jacket?

A break from knitting

After I used up the last of my Malabrigo Arroyo yarn to make myself a cardigan, I ran out of virgin yarn. So when I wanted to make TLM a new pullover for winter, I decided to unravel two older cardigans that she had stopped wearing because they weren't oversized enough. But since I finished that (photos later) I seem to have lost my need to knit.

It's probably partly because I now have too many hand knits, and partly because the weather has been so spring-like that I just don't want to think about cold weather garments any more.

In the meantime, TLM turned eleven and acquired a bike. She is only just learning to ride, and the bike is big enough that she is only just tall enough to ride it. But I'm optimistic. It's gotta be easier to learn anything at the age of 11 than it is at middle age!

I have been neglecting my kombucha bug. Ever since I found a supermarket that sells miso paste in decent-sized tubs I've not felt the need to drink kombucha - but I'm sure that will change once it gets a lot warmer. In the meantime I'm sure the current batch is aging into some powerful vinegar.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


We were having a wonderfully mild winter, when suddenly winter just crashed the party and drank all the alcohol. Since then it's felt like we are getting a crash course on coldness, wetness and windiness.

And funnily enough, all this happened soon after the spring fashions started appearing in all of the shops...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bums off seats

We have been making  lot of use of the Pokemon Go game, since it became available.

At first I thought it was just going to be played by the sort of geeks who have to be the first to  try out new tech, plus fans of the original Pokemon games.

A couple of days later I realised it was a proper phenomenon, bigger than the must less useful selfie phenomenon. At least Pokemon Go has gotten plenty of otherwise sedentary folks off their bums and out into the world (albeit augmented).

The boy and TLM have been out and about catching Poke-people every day since the school holidays started - to my delight, because the alternative would have been far less physically active.

I took TLM and her buddy out for a Pokemon hunt this afternoon. When I say that I took them out, what I mean is that I trailed behind as they skipped and ran ahead up through the forest, up and down  mountain bike tracks. I was really just there to ensure they didn't get lost or drop the boy's smartphone over a cliff.

I am very proud to say that TLM actually wore me out this afternoon. When I was ready to head home she was happy to continue hopping over tree roots and bush-bashing in search of cartoony creatures with funny names.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

From coat to coat

I had this old faux-shearling coat that no-one wanted to buy off me - even for 20 bucks.

So I cut it up and made a re-sized version for The Little Madam

She had to promise me that she'd wear it to school (not just at home)