Monet wrap top

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This here is the top part of Butterick 6285, to go with the skirt part I made.

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I was initially not particularly interested in this top, as I find wraps tricky on me – they have to be perfect in order to sit right. However when I saw Gertie’s grey version I was intrigued – I think because of the high neckline it sits nicely. A lower wrap just shifts around on me and I always find myself adjusting it. I also liked how it looked tied in back, rather than with the ties creating more visual weight in front. In doing my usual pre-buying google, I found Tasha from By Gum By Golly’s surplice wrap hack and it tipped me over and I picked the pattern up when there was a sale.

Tied behind.

I do always like to make a pattern as-is, first, to see how it fits and goes together, before I change anything. The pattern pieces fit on a 1m piece of fabric, but you need four because it’s self lined, meaning it needs just over 2m of fabric. I don’t have that much knit fabric in my stash so for this one I went straight for some of the good stuff – some lightweight merino from the Fabric Store. I originally bought this to make a moneta but it’s so light I don’t think it would do very well for that, so I was happy to use it for this hopefully wearable experiment.

Tied in front

I had quite a bit of a struggle with this one, however. Starting with the very light fabric being hard to cut out. I wrestled with it! However, I got it done and started putting it together. The sewing went very quickly, it’s a neatly drafted pattern. But once I had it together I could see numerous flaws:

  • It’s short. I knew it would be short (it’s meant to sit at your true waist) but it’s REALLY short
  • It’s especially short at the back, pulling out of the ties – Press and Pin found hers 2″ too short as well so I suspect this is a drafting issue, although I do also have a long waist
  • It’s made even shorter at the back because I didn’t do an FBA of any kind, which is accomodated fine by the front but results in it pulling to the front and so the centre back dips WAY up – I notice that the back V is sitting much higher on me than on Gertie or on Tasha
  • The sleeves were so so tight (Tasha also noted this)
  • The back was incredibly baggy.

First step was to deal with the sleeves. I unpicked them and sewed them with the teeniest seam allowance possible. This helped but I really need more room still. If I make this again I would add 1.5cm to the sleeves. I cut the long sleeves, which should be 3/4ish length but because they are too tight they pull up and are shorter, ending at an awkward spot on my arm. I ended up hemming them 2″ shorter to get them to a point where they weren’t  cutting off my blood flow. Rather than slip stitching I used Gertie’s method here – I also top stitched the tie opening and the waist opening, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

You can see they’re still quite tight.

Next was to take the back in. I took a wedge out of the centre back. Here it is after that:

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S kindly took a video because I couldn’t see my own back, this is a still from it. Saggy baggy elephant! So I took it in again. And then again, until the back was taken in from dart to dart. Here is what it looks like now:

Excuse the wayward back of my hair! It does what it wants, Thor.

Those darts are supposed to be pointing straight down, but I’ve angled the back in so much that they’re making a triangle. Totally necessary as without it the back was hugely baggy and looked just shocking. It’s still… not great, probably partly due to all that handling. It might benefit from a wash and a steam block.

As you can see, I also added a strip along the back. I cut a 2″ strip, sewed it on, and then sewed a sharp angle from the middle of the front to the side seam. I don’t think that made much sense – if I were adjusting it on the flat pattern what this would like is adding 2″ to the side seam and grading sharply up – the front is curved so I essentially evened out that curve – and then lengthening the back 2″ all the way along the pattern piece. The addition isn’t ideal because it doesn’t drape the same way it would if it were one peace but it hopefully makes it wearable – you can see how much it still pulls up, even with the extra length!  I could probably use another inch there right at the centre back.

Untied. You can see how far up the V neck sits on me – on others you would see a wedge of skin at the top there. And it’s not JUST the weird camera angle + my hunch back.

Honestly I wonder if part of the problem isn’t that it’s too big all round. Someone else mentioned the sizing being quite large in this (I can’t now find where I read that, apologies) – I made the largest size (22) and actually now I’m looking again I really am closer to a size 20. You can see that the neck rumples up with extra fabric around the shoulders – basically it needs a reverse FBA to take that out. But the centre front and back, where I have all the excess, don’t change from size to size. I wonder if I wouldn’t benefit from just taking 1″ or so off the centre line.

Extra fabric around my neck

I also find the front wrap quite big, and I have to tie it tight and arrange it or it sits loosely. I suspect, however, that it has stretched out some. This might also be user error – I get the feeling my rouching where the front meets the ties is not as deep as it’s meant to be. I cut the ties on the fold because the fabric was being so difficult but suspect I didn’t subtract enough for seam allowance. Therefore where they attach at the front is less gathered. I like that it makes it a bit longer than it might otherwise be, and adds less bulk, but I wonder if it makes that angle of the front less trim and neat.

Loose front edge and a ridge of extra fabric at the neck. Evidence in favour of taking out an extra inch or so down the centre line?

All up, I’m just not sure about this top. This post sounds so negative but I want to be clear that I really like the pattern – it’s clever, and I actually had a ball sewing it. I think it has a lot of potential despite being a fabric hog. Many of the issues I had were either user error or standard fitting issues I have with most patterns.Although judging by both my experience and the commonalities with other reviews, as drafted the sleeves are too tight it’s too short, and the back is too short specifically.

I am a bit frustrated that I have had to fiddle with it so much and I’m not sure I have worked out what would fix the issues next time. As for the specific make, I don’t know if this version will get much wear. I was feeling ok about it and I do really like it from the front but seeing the back in these photos is making me have serious doubts! I’m not sure I’ll ever feel secure in this, it does take a fair bit of adjusting to sit right and then as I move it pulls and shifts because it’s not quite right. My main criteria for my clothes is that they make me feel put together, and I don’t think this one is going to (hence the name – it’s a full on Monet!) as the back is just… ugh. It’s a real shame because the fabric is so warm and snuggly and the double layer of it is just heavenly. However there’s enough of it in here that perhaps I can salvage it to make something else.

And finally… wrapped under the boob. This is the hardest to get sitting right but might be my favourite look.

I definitely want to give this pattern another go, whether a wrap version or a surplice hack like Tasha did. I have been thinking about trying a fully reversible one with two different colours of wool fabric.

I did always mean for this to be something of a muslin so I might give it a few outings to try, but be prepared to make my peace with not wearing it. Next time I will:

  • Add an extra 1.5cm to the sleeves
  • Take an extra inch off of the centre back.front fold line
  • Take even more than that off the centre back – and maybe fold out the darts
  • lengthen it at least 3″ at the back, tapering out to the front.

 

 

Malmaison skirt

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Hello lovelies! How do you like my new skirt?

Myself, I am pretty thrilled with it! It’s Butterick 6285, one of Gertie’s patterns. I bought it for the top, the skirt being a pretty simple thing to draft and I wouldn’t have considered it worth buying a pattern for. It’s a full circle skirt, but with four double box pleats – two front and two back – making it very full and giving it wonderful movement.

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The fabric is a jacquard-print sateen from Spotlight that I bought on impulse at one of their sales. I was there buying 8 metres of fleece for a planned dressinggown and needed a more exciting purchase to bolster my spirits. Full credit to my partner S for finding this shoved at the back of everything after I found a bolt with only 1 metre on it and was sad. He is truly an excellent fabric hunter, and the envy of all the other women trapped in Spotters. I saw the fabric and immediately thought of this pattern and couldn’t get it out of my head.

The pattern is cut on the cross grain – made necessary by the large sweep of the skirt and also lending extra springyness to the skirt – and it’s a real fabric hog. It calls for just on 4 metres for my size, and I used it all – if you’ve got wide fabric it leaves an annoying strip of unusable scraps. Oh well. The pockets I did in a plain white broadcloth I had in the stash, which is nice and tightly woven and perfect for pockets. They peep out a bit and I wish I’d used navy to make them less visible but oh well. I really like the way the pockets sit at the exact right point to add to the flounce of the skirt. The pleats are also places perfectly, and help avoid that weird droopy fold at the front that a lot of circle skirts get.

Technically I am sized out of this pattern – my waist measurement is something like 3″ bigger than the largest size. However going off several reviews, especially Heather’s, I knew that this skirt was drafted big – 3″ too big, exactly. WHY people insist on putting extra ease in circle skirts where it can’t do anything but cause them to droop from your hips, or shift around, I will never understand. However, I shouldn’t complain as it meant I could make the size 22 right out of the packet – in fact I even took a wedge out of the centre back seam for my swayback.

The back has an invisible zip, and a hook and eye. The skirt is actually a bit loose in these photos. The last skirt I made I put the hook and eye in a bit tight, so I think I overcompensated on this – or perhaps I just hadn’t eaten as much the day I took photos. My stomach is the first place to show any temporary or permanent fluctuations for me so… [shrug] It fits ok still but if it stays this loose I will tighten the hook because it does shift around a bit. The hem is just a short 1cm turnup because I didn’t want to loose any length – I initially cut the skirt out 1″ longer but then realised my addition was wonky so went back and cut it as per pattern.

How do you like my photo location? I liked this skirt so much I didn’t want to do another boring wall shoot. Instead I ventured out into my neighbourhood. I tried a couple of other spots which were ok but the lighting  conditions weren’t right, but this path worked out pretty great, I think! Except that I need to stand more off the path so those dang signs aren’t in shot. It’s amazing what you don’t notice in the tiny viewfinder, when lining up a shot. Or is that just me? I walk this path every day on the way to the train, and even though it’s a fairly busy thoroughfare, on Sunday afternoon there were only a couple of people there. I just brought my phone so I could pretend to be checking messages when there were people, and waited for them to pass. I thought I would be terrified of being in such a public place but it was actually really fun! I scouted another couple of places which are promising but closer to a main road (but also closer to my house) so we’ll see if I’m brave enough for those another time.

Back to sewing. The lining is a thick mystery fabric I had in my stash – it’s short because I only had a couple of metres and that’s all I could get. It’s hefty enough that it adds to the swoosh of the skirt in a very pleasing way. I cut it by folding out the pleats in the pattern and cutting the lining from that, as Gertie does here. All edges were overlocked and then sewn.This skirt went together quite quickly, even with the marking and pressing and sewing of the box pleats. It took me most of a Sunday but that was because I stopped and started a lot. Perhaps three or four hours, from cutting to done, not including the muslin?

I think this pattern is very well drafted, and actually quite worth paying for! Which is saying something for a circle skirt pattern. The only quibble I have is that it never tells you to take the basting out of the pleats. It shows them sewn up the whole time. Looking at Gertie’s example and going by my own preference, I took the basting out but I see that some people have left it in. All fine according to preference, but it is an oversight in the pattern not to say.

Look at that glorious box pleat. Wrinkling over the bum not so much, I think I might need to steam that area a bit, since it’s got extra curve because of the wedge I took out.

As you can see I didn’t bother to pattern match, because I couldn’t be bothered. It would be easy enough to do if you cared. I also sewed a small bar tack at the base of the zipper because I find my skirts have a lot of strain there and the seam often pulls apart.

My top is also me-made – yet another Kirsten Kimono tee, with fabric from Rathdowne remnants that I bought on my recent Melbourne visit. I don’t remember what, it feels a bit crepey and maybe a bit rayon-y? It’s very comfortable to wear. I took yet ANOTHER inch out of the front centre of my pattern and it’s finally sitting right, I think. I need to go back and adjust the sleeves back down thought because the scooping of the front has swung them up. They sit ok in this light fabric but I’d have wings in a thicker fabric.

I am really in love with this skirt – it’s so easy and simple to wear, with very little bulk around the waist (I trimmed those box pleat seams at the waistband very aggressively) but it’s full and it is SO fun to move in. Honestly maybe I should have taken a video because this thing is so lovely in movement. Instead, here’s an attempted spinning shot:

I feel glamorous and elegant in this. I probably have enough skirts for now but I would definitely make this again if I could find the right fabric, and I’m excited to make the top from this pattern as soon as I stash dive and find some fabric for it.

Why do you sew what you sew?

My general sewing MO is to make some rough plans of the kinds of things I want to sew, and then when I feel like sewing something, I pick what appeals to me within that. I also often get a bee in my bonnet to sew a particular fabric, pattern, or type of garment, and happily let them skip to the head of the informal queue. Because this is a loose, flexible process, there’s some thinking about what would be useful to me – things like my School Witch skirt or denim circle skirt come to be because I notice a gap in my wardrobe that would make other things more wearable. But there’s also a whole bunch of reacting to unseen forces. Like many and over-educated person with two semesters of economics under my belt, I like to delve into those from time to time.

Filling a wardrobe gap

I really noticed this a lot when planning for my SWAP sewing. I was trying to be deliberate and sew what I would wear. I am done my sewing now, and looking at my original plan, I see I have only sewn five of the things on that list – and only two of them will make it into my final SWAP post as the others don’t really go with the others in terms of feeling like a cohesive whole.

Partially this is because my personal style is undergoing some shifts and of course the influence of external fashion trends etc,  but there’s more at work than that I think. (Of course I do), and it ties into my motivations for sewing in the first place. I was also prompted to actually blog about it when I was commenting on one of Ciara’s posts and could’t stop talking about it! Sorry Ciara…

Motivation one: I sew mostly work clothes

I generally don’t have trouble finding loungewear (although I do then feel guilty for buying things made in sweatshops but that’s another issue). But I DO have a LOT of trouble finding work appropriate clothes that I like. Partly this is size ranges – I am a tweenie which means I am often in between the plus and straight sizes. It’s also about price, material and fit. I am not paying hundreds of dollars for a poorly made, polyester shirt that gapes across my bust. Not. Happening. It didn’t happen much before I could sew, either. So before I sewed for myself my work clothes involved a lot of knit tops. It still does, but now it also includes fitted dresses.

Boring to sew, gets worn all the time

So my sewing is mostly work-appropriate clothes, and that is very different for me now than it was two years ago because I work in a different workplace. (As an aside, a colleague found out last week that I sew my own clothes and she exclaimed ‘Really?! But you always look so professional!’ I am choosing to take that as a compliment, I suppose…)

Motivation 2: I sew what I already wear. Conversely I sew what I can’t already wear

My choice of patterns has always been influenced by what I wear, which in turn has been influenced by what was already available to me. I don’t have a desire to make jeans (or any kind of pant), for instance, because I don’t wear them. But I don’t wear them because I can’t buy them to fit my in a way I like. So perhaps it is worth making them, because then I can make ones that fit and then I would wear them!

I am also influenced by things I would like to wear but aren’t available to me to buy – whether that’s shape, style, fabric, or fit. My first makes were numerous skirts, not just because they were relatively easy but because I already wore a lot of skirts and tops, but this way I could wear well fitting skirts in colours and patterns that I liked, and shapes that weren’t fashionable at the time. The trouble I had buying an A-line skirt! Ridiculous.

Looks like I first made this pattern in 2012, and I made several over the years. Repeating the same pattern over and over helped me get better at sewing. I don’t wear this silhouette much any more but I regret getting rid of this version specifically – I doubt I’d wear a robot skirt these days but it holds a special spot in my sewing history and I wish I’d kept it. At least I have the blog!

Motivation 3: I sew what I can sew – or can almost sew

Ultimately I am sewing clothes to wear them. That means I naturally gravitate towards things that I know I can sew with enough skill that the garment is wearable. As with the above mentioned skirts, I didn’t quite have all the skills to make them when I started, and admittedly, some of those early skirts were a bit of a disaster – but honestly no more than many of the RTW options available to me. As my skill level has increased, and I acquired more sewing tools and better machines and a dedicated sewing space, what I sew has increased in complexity.

I’m a product sewer. I like reading about seam finishes and I like knowing the couture ways to do things but honestly I’m not at all bothered by raw knit edges and overlocked seams – or even obvious mends or mismatched seams as long as they’re not in a place where they’re highly visible. I am much much more interested in the overview of how the garment looks on. While I do continue to enjoy building my skills and knowledge, and can certainly see a future where I spend a month making a simple skirt with couture finishes, that time is not now. I am coming around to not feeling guilty about that – I always feel like I should spend more time and effort on my garments. But why? Does that have a value in and of itself? Maybe, but I don’t think that value overrides the value of having a finished, wearable garment – at least for me, right now it doesn’t.

Sometimes that means messy insides. That's fine by me.
Sometimes that means messy insides. That’s fine by me.

Motivation 4: I sew to cover my nakedness

Riffing off of that last point, as I have moved into sewing being the default rather than shopping, it’s actually put a fair amount of pressure on my sewing time. I need to be clothed, respectably, and in a seasonally appropriate manner. Six months ago I went through my wardrobe and got rid of every thing I didn’t wear. I was left with essentially five outfits, all but one me made, all appropriate for high summer. It was lovely to see my wardrobe comprised of my sewing but likewise it meant that my future sewing time needed to be practical. As we moved into autumn I found myself very hard pressed to dress myself appropriately every day! So I have focused lately on sewing very versatile things that work well in this transitional season and also work with my existing wardrobe. I can’t afford not to! Very soon I am going to need to sew some warmer items for winter, or shiver through it!

My wardrobe in November, after a clean out. This is everything that I wear, with the exception of tshirts and jumpers which are in drawers. And looking at this now I see three garments I haven't worn since then that should probably go to the op shop, also. 90% of this is me-made.
My wardrobe in November, after a clean out. This is everything that I wear, with the exception of tshirts and jumpers which are in drawers. And looking at this now I see five garments I haven’t worn since then that should probably go to the op shop, also. 90% of this is me-made.

Motivation 5: I sew what works with the materials to hand

Fabric shopping in Adelaide is pretty limited. There are a couple of nice stores but the only fabric I can access in a consistent way is from Lincraft and Spotlight. That means I sew things that work well in the fabrics that they do well – sateen and broadcloth and cotton linen and voile and other plain cottons. I find it hard to access nice, higher end fabrics – and I don’t know that I am willing to pay the prices if I could. In theory I believe that it’s worth paying for, but in practice, when you are large and like big skirts and therefore need six metres for a dress, and that dress may or may not end up getting worn a lot… well. It’s a disincentive to spend thirty dollars a metre, is all. I also have a hard time accessing knits – the main topic of the comments on Ciara’s blog. I don’t tend to sew many tshirts because I can buy ones that are basically fine, still have a drawerfull, and find good quality knit hard to find. That said, I do feel guilty for buying sweats and yoga pants and tshirts because of issues of sweatshops etc. And prompted by the discussion with Ciara, I realised that despite having a whole drawer of tshirts I really only wear the ones I made myself. So I will be looking into buying more knit fabric when I can get it and making more, and giving away the bought ones I don’t wear!

There are some things I have no desire to sew at all. Jeans, bras and underwear (which I have FINALLY found RTW ones I’m comfortable in and so don’t seem worth it). And there are things I can see myself sewing eventually, when it’s less important to clothe myself (in between being excited about shiny new patterns, which I suspect will never change) – sweats, yoga pants, more tshirts. And garments that I am working my way up to because my skill level isn’t there yet but I find it impossible to buy RTW – coats and jackets and also swimsuits although that’s less urgent.

 

So that’s my navel gazing about what I sew. I craft because it fulfils a deep need in myself, but I SEW, specifically, to clothe myself. And that has an influence on the kinds of patterns, fabrics, techniques and garments I choose to make. It was very interesting to look back over five years of sewing blogging and notice not only how much better I’ve gotten but also how the silhouettes I am choosing have shifted. And it was wonderful to realise that now, when I want a new garment, it doesn’t even occur to me to shop for it.

I’m looking forward to this changing, too – I’m not planning on quitting sewing any time soon! Tell me, what do you sew? And why?

One skirt, two skirt

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I spent like thirty minutes not blogging this because I couldn’t think of a name for it. I knew the naming thing would get me! That’s too much thinking and delaying for a simple 3/4(ish) circle skirt.

What would you call this one?

But! It’s not just ANY simple 3/4(ish) circle skirt! It is the reincarnation of the one that I had so much trouble with in December. I thought I probably had enough of the fabric left to recut the back, but every time I looked at the skirt I just felt tired. There were sewn-shut pockets and a waistband and the denim was light enough that I just knew unpicking would be a challenge and I might end up with a stretched out mess.

After craft camp, I was looking for a displacement project so that I could procrastinate on finishing the dress I started. What, isn’t that how you get anything done? Well anyhow, I laid out the denim and I figured that with a bit of creative positioning I could get a whole entire new skirt out of my scraps. Hooray!

I just went and checked my last skirt and for some reason I cut the whole front on the bias – like, so the bias runs across the whole of the skirt from the bottom corner diagonally to the opposite top corner. This is not making any sense, is it? Basically idek why I did that, but it made the front hang funny. So clearly a whole bunch  of good decisions happened with the last version… Anyhow, this time I cut the front so the centre front is just on the straight grain. The backs I meant to cut with the centre on the straight grain but I got my pattern flipped around. The centre back is actually significantly different to the centre front because I took a pretty massive wedge out of the centre back for my swayback/big booty. So the seams of this skirt meet at different biases, which is supposed to be a big nono but it seems to be fine so far. I tried to take a photo  of it but it is quite hard to photograph, so you’ll either have to imagine it or lean in real far on this side view:

I guess you can kind of tell anyway, because of how they are sitting. The back side is on the straight grain, so it’s hanging stiffly and a bit out from my body, while the front is draping. I do notice some hem weirdness – the pattern I had made had a shorter back than front somehow so I ended up adjusting on the fly and I think I need to smooth out the curve at the bottom because the centre dip of the circle is too deep and so hangs low. OR it could be because of the bias issue. I am not sure. Any thoughts?

I also need to smooth out the circle at the top at the centre back – see how it’s bubbling up? I think this is part of the on the fly adjustments I made. As you can see, there’s elastic in the back there. Here is how I constructed this skirt.

I cut out the pattern but with the waist area about 1″ lower, so that the waist was wider. I then measured around my waist with 2″ elastic so I had a length of elastic the fit my waist measurement. I cut a straight piece of the denim about 2″ longer than the elastic. Then I basted the elastic, slightly stretched, inside the denim so they met up and the denim was slightly gathered when the elastic was at rest. I then basted this on to the skirt.

Unfortunately I had two issues at this point – one was that I had cut the elastic too long and it wasn’t sitting firm enough. The other was that the denim was not quite as stretchy as I’d thought and so it was quite a wriggle to get into it. So I hoiked it until it looked about right and chopped off another two inches off the skirt, and re-sewed the elastic, totally forgetting that I needed to make it tighter. When I realised, I unpicked only the back section and tightened it, which is why the back is gathered and the front isn’t. This is fine by me, as it offers a much smoother look at the front and minimises the evidence that I am wearing clothes with elastic waists.

Next time I would:

  • start lower at the waist than I did – I’d even take a bit more than I did for this one, say 4″ total off the waist depth. The front seam rolls up a bit, I think because it needs more width, and it is a bit of a song and dance to get into (literally a dance, sometimes) because there’s not really enough ease in that waist to get it over my hips. Starting out right would mean I could be sure not to end up with a wonky curve, like I do at the centre back.
  • extend the length down – I forgot that obviously taking an length off the top means the skirt will be shorter! It’s fine, but I wish I had another inch of length.
  • pay more attention when cutting to get everything on the correct bias!

Here’s the innards:

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I lined it using the same pattern as the skirt but starting even further down and then gathering it. I’m not sure that’s working really well for a skirt with an elastic waist? Anyone lined a skirt like this before? I suppose if I were making the waist wider anyhow I could just treat the lining and skirt as one – I gathered the lining to the skirt fabric on the premise that the denim would stretch, but since it doesn’t really I probably could just treat them the same as each other. You can see that the waistband is serged on, catching the edge of the elastic. I used the selvedges for the side seams and serged the others. Hem is just serged, turned and top stitched. Another lazy, slightly wibbly hem. It’s my calling card!

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Back waistband

All in all, I am really happy to have this in my wardrobe. It’s not perfect – another of my calling cards! But it’s pretty good and I love the simple shape. The shirt I’m wearing in this and the last post is yet another Kirsten kimon, made with a mystery fabric from my stash that I think I got from an opshop but I’m not sure because I don’t really remember. I guess it’s probably pique or something similar, with some kind of poly content but mostly cotton. It’s mildly see through so I was trialing it in pics to see if it’s opaque enough to wear to work. I think I vote yes (especially since I end up wearing a jumper all day e’ry day anyhow. My office is freezing). Earrings are from Have you met Charlie, and I am kind of obsessed with them.

So there you go! I finally made myself that 3/4(ish) denim skirt I’ve been craving, AND successfully avoided having to set in sleeves in my dress. A resounding win! Now I just have to figure out what to do with the other, dodgy dress which I can’t bear to throw out because that’s a lot of good fabric in there! I have issues.

School witch skirt

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Hello lovelies! This here is my second and last finished item from Craft Camp. I also rehemmed my navy 6055, and sewed about half of another dress which is still languishing un-finished. It’s also my second attempt at naming things. How am I doing? It feels very strange.

This is another Butterick 6102b6102_env_front.B6102

Last time I sewed view B, but with the pleats un-picked. Actually I took a couple more quick photos of that one for you because my last photoshoot was windy and you couldn’t really see the skirt very well. Here ’tis:

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I did not pattern match on this at all but I love the way the fronts are flipped mirror images of each other – this continues into the centre of the pleat where they meet in a lovely way.

I love this one with the pleats un-picked because for this fabric I wanted a very fluffy skirt, but I do think it would be wonderful with them sewn down as directed.

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It’s one of my favourite things to wear and I get a lot of compliments on it. I thought this time I’d try view D – views A and C are scandalously short, even on short-legged me. Be warned!

The fabric is a black sateen from Spotlight that I’ve had in my stash for ages. I’d used it to make a dress out of so I knew it had flaws – it wrinkles a lot and it attracts lint like WOAH. I eventually gave away that dress at least partially because of the lint issue – I live with a light coloured cat, so lint is an issue that’s not going to be solved any time soon! Anyway, I wasn’t sure I’d like this view of the skirt and I had this in the stash so I figured if it only worked as a muslin that would be fine.

I was also a bit sceptical about the straight waistband. Generally, straight waistbands and I are not friends. But this one seems to be ok – I think the top of the skirt is shaped enough, and the band itself is thin enough, that it’s working. I didn’t adjust for my swayback and you can see the skirt droops slightly at the back, because it sits lower in my sacrum than it does on my stomach. Hypothetically this would be easy to fix another time, but I don’t know that it bothers me so much.

Trying to pose like the pattern image. Haven’t got the right smug facial expression though…

I made a straight size 22, and it’s a teeny tiny bit tight at the stomach. If I made this again I might take just the front pleats perhaps 1/2cm less, and extend the waistband. That said, at least it means the waistband sits where I put it – it’s not obviously or uncomfortably tight, but for a work skirt that I sit in all day it’s mildly suboptimal.

The back is a lapped zipper again, and it turned out ok! Very exciting for me, I am so bad at them. Although I see here that the zipper stop is visible, so I should go back and fix that. I took a 3″ hem, just folded up and sewn with a straight stitch, although it is a great candidate for a blind hem. I also sewed a hook and eye into the waistband.

Here I had sat down for five seconds, and you can see how it’s wrinkled, and it’s also picked up every piece of dust in the vicinity.

I lined it by sewing the pleats, and then laying the assembled front and back pieces over lining fabric and cutting around them. Worked great! I find with the green version that the centre pleat, being a heavy pleat with lining under it, gets caught between my legs as I walk sometimes. This is assisted by the fact that I have terrible posture and lean forward – it happens with my Bon Voyage dress too, and standing up properly ameliorates it. But I figured a straight lining rather than an underlining would work better. I also graded the waist seam very aggressively. The only thing I don’t like about my green version is the waist seam at the CF where the pleat is is VERY bulky. I do think about going back to grade it but it would be annoying to get to so I haven’t as yet.

The pleating in this is really clever and elegant. It’s a bit hard to see in stills but when it’s in motion, the pleats open up just at the right spot and the torso looks slim and the skirt flares out beautifully. I love it a lot. I didn’t actually do a super great job of sewing the pleats to the same length, though, oops. Also the front ones started to come unravelled, so note to self, if I make this again, sew the pleat section a couple of times to give it strength, and maybe even a bar tack? It was simple enough to tie them off manually but I worry it will break under pressure later.

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Close up of wonky pleats

I love the length of this, although I am inclined to wear taller heels to mitigate potential frumpiness. Although lbr, I am just going to wear it with whatever because sometimes (often) I cannot be bothered with heels. I also found out that now I am wearing longer skirts, I have solved one of my enduring problems: how to have warm legs in winter. I hate feeling constricted around my stomach so I very rarely feel able to cope with stockings, especially as even the plus size ones are not made for people with stomachs (looking at YOU, We Love Colours. Disappointing.) Last year I wore knee socks all winter but it does look a bit juvenile, especially when your preferred outfit is a shirt dress! I have tried thigh highs and garter belts and all kinds of things and lots of things are ok but just annoying enough to be discouraging. However! With longer skirts, you can just wear knee socks!

In this photo I am mad because I had just realised I forgot to put the dynamic focus on and so all my previous photos had my face out of focus. But this was my second attempt at photographing this dress, so blurry ghost face photos it is!

And THIS cranky look is for the remote battery, which was dying. not such a risque photo as you can see my bike shorts start soon after my socks end. Unless you’re into that sort of thing, I guess? In which case that’s fine but don’t tell me about it, I don’t want to know. Anyway. Knee socks and midi skirts. Problem solvered.

I am really happy with this skirt and it’s already doing its turn in my wardorbe. I’m not sure how long it will last because it IS very lint attracting. But at least I know now that it’s worth making another in a less irritating fabric!

Bon Voyage dress

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I’m trying out that thing where you name your makes, because referring to them as numbers makes me feel like a weird robot. And not in a cool way. I’m very bad at naming things, though, so we’ll see how long I last!

After posting about my last B6055 (beep boop zeep zorp. That’s me being a robot. Not a cool one) I actually ended up really really loving it.The hem still bugged me but I felt fancy in it anyway and honestly, I just wanted to wear it all of the time.So when I was packing for the most recent Craft Camp, the pattern was the first thing to be packed, along with this black cotton linen. It’s the same cotlin blend as the last one, from spotters. It’s really lovely, I have to say, although it does have quite a loose weave and is mildly seethrough.

I meant to just make it the same as my last one,  but I didn’t read my pattern notes. Last time I traced up an adjusted bodice, so that was the same. But I wrote ‘size 20, adjusted’ on the bodice and so I cut out a size 20 skirt, forgetting that I’d graded out at the waist to a 22. I ended up going back and doing teeny seams to give myself the ease back in the waist – it fit at a 20 but wasn’t nearly as comfy, especially when sitting.

The actual sewing details of this one are, same adjustments as the last time, i.e., dropping the kimono sleeve down and scooping out the under arm. Size 20 bodice, size 22 from the underarm down (after re-adjusting it). I left the bodice unlined and lined the skirt with bemsilk because it was quite seethrough. The navy one is actually quite warm because of the lawn underlining in the bodice, whereas I can see myself wearing this one on a heatwave day. I left it to hang for a day and then the lovely Sue pinned the hem for me. The linen dropped quite a lot on the bias – I also ended up lifting the bodice up a bit at the centre front, which also dropped. You can see here how much it dropped because I just sewed the hem at the height it was, without cutting it:

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I hand sewed the hem and the sleeve hems because even though it took hours it was still quicker than doing a terrible machine hem and then having to re-do it anyways. I took quite a big hem at the sleeves after experimenting with the navy version – giving it a 2″ hem means it hits high enough on my arm to give me a lot more movement than a shallower hem does. I also unpicked and evened out the hem of the navy one, and hand sewed that, while I was at it. Circle skirts are lovely but their hems are the devil.

I french seamed where I could and overlocked the rest. Zipper is machine-sewed laped, and all the facings are overlocked to finish and then tacked down by hand. Used quite a heavy interfacing for the collar because go big or go home, that’s how I feel about collars.

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Sorry this photo is so terrible – the light was fading by then  but I wanted to show this bit because I think it’s interesting, drafting-wise. Innards of the facing of the collar.

I adjusted the collar this time – I graded from size 20 down to size 18 at the front edge of the collar, and it sits much better on my shoulder, actually meeting the shoulder seam properly and not pulling at the back.

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Collar sitting at the seam, and just barely meeting at the back.

I had quite a lot of trouble sewing the collar, again. Part of the problem is that I hadn’t been careful to finish my neck-darts all the way to the end and they were pulling apart and making that seam longer than it should be (I often don’t bother to backstitch seams if they’re going to be caught in another seam, and this lazy step finally got me in trouble!). Once I fixed that it was easier. But part of it is I think it’s just drafted weird. Next time I would either adjust it so that the bit of the collar that attaches to the neck is longer, or just not expect it to overlap. In this version it meets at the back neck but doesn’t overlap as the pattern says it should. I do think it looks ok this way but not as nice as the navy version which I did manage to get to overlap – at the expense of it pulling. There is just straight up not enough of the collar for it to do what the pattern says it should.

It’s fitting a bit firmly here at the waist because there were taken directly after dinner, so my stomach is at high tide, so to speak. I managed to quickly sneak in a photoshoot, trying out this new location – I haven’t tried it before because to my left here is the door to the room where the Teen used to be. Since he’s moved out, I figure it’s a safe. He was very nice and probably would have waited until he was out of sight to roll his eyes, but you know. I did get busted taking these photos but instead of an eyeroll I got a hug, so that’s ok:

N’aaaaaw.

It also means the camera is a bit lower than I realised, since I’m standing on the deck, so I think my torso is a bit foreshortened. I’ll adjust the tripod more next time, but overall I am pleased with the location – ok, it’s boring, and dusty, but it’s the best evening location I’ve found yet – everywhere else I can take photos around my house is in full sun or dappled shade in the evening, and since evening is when I have the most time for photos, you’ll probably be seeing this spot again. I did take advantage of the bench to try some sitting poses.

Felt a bit odd. Might have to revisit the sitting section of the Better Pictures Project for posing advice. I did follow Gillian’s advice about dynamic focus mode and it worked WAY better. My face is in focus in almost every photo, and there is less general weirdness. Thanks, Gillian!

Here it is with a jumper, as I wore it to work the other day. I love how it emphasises the collar. I did think about piping the collar but I am so so bad at piping, so I left it.

As you can see, I did the pockets this time. I thought I would feel ambivalent about them but I love them. I left the bow off, intending to sew on some nice buttons from my stash when I got home, but I think that would catch on things – like the belt, since the top of the pockets are just barely under the belt – so I think I’ll just leave it without anything there.

And without the belt, so you can see more of it:

The positive ease in the waist is more visible like this. I did a lapped zipper because I was using a borrowed older machine with no invisible zipper foot, and I think I did an ok job! Even when I had to unpick and re-set it twice while I was fiddling with the waist.

I will probably always wear it with a belt, and I notice the belt sits a bit lower than the waist, so I might put in belt loops. I should also note that this has been washed but not ironed. Being linen, that means it’s crumpled. But let’s be real – I’m not going to iron this after every wear, and after an hour of wear it’s wrinkly anyway, so [shrugs]. I did iron the collar of this after it was washed, and I think I might start ironing the hem because looking at this it looks wrinkled in a way I don’t love. I think I say this every post. I might just stop pointing out the wrinkles. Like natural fabrics, live with wrinkles, that’s my deal!

The front and the back of the skirt are different pieces in this pattern – the front having more circle in it. I’d say the back is maybe 1/4 circle and the front is maybe 1/2. I did think about using the back piece for the front this time round, because I don’t really like having that much bias at the front. It folds in and looks a bit weird (and… yonnic. Like the pockets aren’t enough!). The reason it’s like that, I think, is that it’s designed to be worn with a petticoat, like so:

You can still see the fold lines where it has been hanging, but the skirt sits out properly. Before taking these photos I had been thinking I might nip in that centre seam to get rid of the folding bit but you know, after looking at these I think I might just start wearing it with a petticoat! I really love how it looks but do feel a bit self-conscious in one, but looking at these it doesn’t look that dramatically different anyway. And maybe that way I’ll get my apportioned seat to myself on the train, without some dude trying to sit half on my leg.

Here’s some more photos of it with the petticoat:

Speaking of petticoats: bras!

Here is a nice one where you can see my bra is kind of pointy. It’s this one and I am in love with it, especially with my shirtdresses. I do find it makes my bustpoint much higher and so on my first M6696’s, which have a knee-length hem, it actually makes them a bit short for my own personal taste. If I am intending to wear this bra (I have four, in different colours) with a dress I’m making, as opposed to my other bras, I make sure to try it on wearing this bra. It does change the fit quite a bit. I do always make sure I’m wearing a good version of my bras when fitting, not the older, stretched out ones. My regular bras are these ones, in case anyone wondered – I have trouble with underwires cutting into the sides of my breasts so wirefree is the way to go for me. I find the ‘smoother’ ones a bit more comfortable but the pointy ones do lift my breasts entirely off of my ribcage, and I think it’s probably the first full breath I have drawn since I was, like, 13, so that’s a huge plus. I find myself standing straighter and breathing deeper when wearing them, which was a bit strange to realise!

Both of these have wide enough bands, and come in a good enough range of sizes, that I can get the band tight enough to give me support – that’s where most of the support in bras comes from anyway. The downside of these is that I find the slider on the straps basically does nothing, it will always slide back down to the bottom, but since there is enough support it doesn’t really matter, all the straps are doing is holding the cups in the right position. Now I have found ones I like, I keep an eye out for sales and buy a bunch at a time, since postage is a killer and I haven’t found anywhere in Aus that has them. I did originally find it at Harris Scarfe’s, but they only have beige. So yes, I have about four of each kind now, because that means I can wear a different one every day and wash them on the weekend, and also I am kind of terrified they’ll stop making them. When i went looking for the link I couldn’t find one of the makes and I actually broke out into a cold sweat, for real. I’ve tried a couple of the other styles of the 18 hour comfort bras but only these two really work for me. They are all shaped a bit differently, and have support in different areas, so if you are interested it’s probably worth trying a couple of styles. I am absolutely not paid by playtex (I WISH, send me free bras yo) I just really really am in love with having a bra that fits and supports me and is cheap enough that I can buy several (cheap is relative… they are cheap for bras, which is not exactly what I would call ‘cheap’).

Anyway, that’s the story with my bras!😛 Little bonus content for ya.

Back to the dress! Here is the obligatory kimono-sleeve lifting-arms test:

That’s as high as I can go before it starts to strain. Not bad for a kimono sleeve. These have the same adjustment as my last version – I really do not recommend sewing them as-is, it’s such a weird shape and I just don’t think it would look good or work for anyone.

And the back-room test:

I also had a go at trying the pose from the cover:

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Didn’t get it quite right because I was going from memory, but I had fun trying!

So that’s it! Another lovely dress and I’m sorry I said mean things about my last one, I love it now. I’m thinking about making just the bodice into a shirt, but then I think I’m done for a while because it’s a pretty distinctive dress and I’m not sure I need more than two in my wardrobe… or DO I?

 

 

 

Wicking beds, stained

The other day I decided now was the time to stain the garden beds. There’s nothing edible growing in them (The zucchini has all but had it) and they were looking a bit grey and sad. I decided I’d stain them with linseed oil. I bought the pre-mixed ‘anti mould’ stuff that is 65% turps. You have to mix it with turps anyway, to get it to sink it. Boy did it stink! But the beds look great. It’s subtle but they are much richer in colour, and feel smoother.

Here is the bed before:

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And after:

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Stained bed in foreground, unstained behind.

I did two coats on all of them, and I think the ends of the logs and the sides that get the most weather could probably do with another. You could practically hear the wood soaking in the oil.

Before:

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After:

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I’d like to get in and do one more coat before winter sets in, because they’re still a bit dry. I really enjoyed spending some time out there, getting up close and personal with the beds. It’s a good opportunity to check in and find any issues with them. I think an annual stain will have to go on the calendar!