The one I gave away

I gave away a top I made today. I took a quick photo before giving it away. Try and ignore the silly expression (I was in my friends house, with my husband taking a quick photo, being photobombed by three small twirly children whilst my friend and her sister looked on – not the ideal photo shoot). The thing is the fit.

Akward photo

Akward photo

The top is the day to night drape top by Maria Denmark (yes, I seem to have a bit of a thing about her patterns and tutorials at the mo). With Birgitte sleeves, as suggested by Maria, because I don’t wear sleeveless tops. I made it in some petrel couloured jersey from a local shop that I now realise is very similar colour to one of the photographed example top’s on her website – this was not intentional! I’m not sure of the fabric content, but it’s very slinky and drapey and feels cold to the touch. It is, as I thought, quite a good choice for a drape neck, but it’s also a little clingy on me.

But then that could be down to the size I cut. I steeled myself to do a full bust adjustment on a drape top. I was a little intimidated. But the pattern suggests using the same method I used before and I figured I just had to ignore the odd looking neckline and concentrate on the FBA. So, I measured my upper bust – 99cm, which corresponds to a large size (with bust measurement 102cm – the medium is 96cm), like I cut for my Birgitte’s. Then I measured my full bust – 103cm. Which is only 1cm above the large bust pattern size. Surely not. I measured again, and again, same answer each time. Surely a 1/2 cm FBA on my pattern piece is not worth it, especially when the pattern says a FBA is not needed for a C cup as there’s plenty of room in the bust.

There are so many things I don't like about this photo, except the two blondes

There are so many things I don’t like about this photo, except the two blondes

So I blended a large top half of the pattern out to a 2XL waist/hip (which I needed) and cut and sewed that. The result is too annoyingly too tight around my girth despite my novice attempt at blending pattern sizes. Also, I see drag lines going horizontally across my cleavage (this is practically all I can focus on when I put the top on). Surely that means I should have done a FBA? What was I thinking of? Why not add 3cm like I did on both the Birgitte’s and the Kimono t shirt – after all, they’re the same pattern designer.

So, I’ve given it away. Despite two friends telling me it looked nice. You know, I think I could live with it if I’d bought it, but it will just bug me no end every time I wore it if I kept it, knowing that I’d spent ages learning to fit t shirts for my bust and then not doing so on this one and then it not fitting properly. I’ve no idea what was going on when I measured myself. In the future, I will just do a 3cm FBA on all Maria Denmark t shirt patterns until my shape changes. End of.

Another awkward photo

Another awkward photo

Oh, and sewing the pattern. Well, that was quite straightforward. The pdf came together easily (not sure if that’s Maria’s skill, a fluke or the fact that the paper size didn’t have to be translated to A4 from letter). It’s just two pieces, but I used the Birgitte sleeve too. What I didn’t do was use fold over or invisible elastic as instructed. I didn’t have any, I wasn’t confident of getting some locally, I didn’t need it on the armholes as I was using sleeves, I couldn’t see what good it was doing inside the drape and I thought I could live without it on the back of the neck. Oh and just possibly I was feeling a little impatient to get it done and didn’t want to wait till the shops were open and possibly wait longer still as if I had to resort to ordering online.

That decision made starting difficult. I had though to make the top up and then decide if I could be bothered with finding elastic to finish it, but the instructions started with adding the elastic finish to the neck before doing anything else. A quick search later and I found this tutorial from Fehr Trade on cowl tops. Here the edges aren’t finished with elastic, horray, but the shoulder seam is stabilised with tape, which I don’t have. I used some hemming tape before on my Coco tops but I’m not sure it was quite the right product to use and I’ve since lost it.

So, in true prolificprojectstarter slapdash style I decided that my folded over seam allowance for the back neckline was my facing and I followed the Fehr Trade buritto method for the shoulder seams. It was a little confusing when pinning as they kept rearranging themselves so I wasn’t sure which was the right side, but it worked fine. Then I just folded over and sewed down my back neckline, after all that worked on my drape drape asymmetric top and no one has ever noticed. And inside the cowl? – I left a raw edge. So, sue me, it won’t show and I’m pretty sure it won’t fray either.

The sleeve attachment took a little jiggling. I cut the large Birgitte sleeves and they didn’t seem quite the right size for the armscye, but a little stretching (the joy of sewing with jersey) and it all worked out. It was also a bit wierd working out how to attatch around the cowl facing, maybe it would’ve worked better if I’d followed Maria’s instrustions, but I got round it. Then it was just hemming the bottom and sleeves, which I did with my double needle (still need to get some jersey interfacing to improve the look of that, ho hum, another thing I can’t get locally).

In conclusion, construction was fine and dandy (if a little quick and dirty) but the fit was off – due to anomolies of measuring and deciding I didn’t need a FBA and exacerbated by clingy fabric. Anyway, my friend is very pleased to have a new top, she hadn’t tried it on when I left it with her, but she has an old shop bought top of mine that I gave away as it was a little too tight in the bust and so kept riding up (some kind of princess seam going on there) and that fits her fine (she wear’s it often, which is good to see as it’s a nice top), so I think it will be fine. And as she’s slightly taller than me I know she will appreciate the long post baby tummy covering length of this top (one day shops will catch on and make them for people to buy!).

I have had enough of t shirts for a while (except possibly for a long sleeved one) and intend to focus on my new knit dress obsession (whilst still ignoring the pile of half finished stuff), but I will try this one again at some point, with a FBA, possibly emailing and asking for advice on sleeve sizing first, and quite probably not in blue (I never intended a new wardrobe full of blue t shirts, I like blue, and I was lacking blue t shirts, but I’m thinking I probably have enough now).

Comparison’s of FBA’s

If you’re not interested in Full Bust Adjustments, please look away now. If you are, here is a little comparison of some of the techniques I’ve been trying recently. All were done on t shirts, partly as I figured that jersey is a forgiving fabric fitting wise, partly as I had some burning a hole in my stash, but mainly because t shirts are what I usually wear and so are the kind of thing I want to make.


Some FBA’s wot I have done

I’ve made a couple of Birgitte T shirts recently , so I thought I’d overlay some different adjustments too see how they differ. The green line is the unaltered pattern (in large size, not that I think that makes a difference and fairly obviously the v neck option).

The turquoise line is the Easy FBA from Maria Denmark that I used for my black v neck t shirt with red accents. The armscye seems to stick out a lot further than the rest on this one – which makes sense if you know how the pivoting was done to get this adjustment. But by the time you get down to the hemline this adjustment has blended back to the normal patter line (hence this one being a tighter fit around my girth).



Next up is the full FBA done via Maria’s original method, where you pinch out the dart you’ve made and ignore the bump. This is drawn in purple. I haven’t actually made up a t shirt via this method, I used it as a step towards on the way to her new improved FBA method, where you eliminate the dart “properly”. Now, I must point out that after I traced this onto my pattern I realised that somewhere in constructing this the bottom half of the pattern had shifted of the fold line somewhat – whoops. So bear this in mind when looking at how it alters the pattern nearer the waistline, that bit kind of needs rotating back to line up on the fold line. I think the armscye is pretty accurate though and in this area it’s very similar to the new improved method that I actually used.


Wobbly pattern drafting

Finally, in red is the proper FBA with the extra step to eliminate the dart that I used on my scoop neck Birgitte t shirt. I said last time that the purple line is pretty much a step on the way to this, but when I saw how skewwiff that step was I redid it as part of forming this FBA (but didn’t re trace everything, sorry, was a bit lacksadasical). This fit worked best for me, but that was partly because it adds to the waist measurement, which worked for my current body shape.


Waistline differences

It just remains for me to say, it’s not that hard to do, I can get a t shirt out of a metre of jersey (and have enough left to make some undies for long suffering hubby) and you’ll get enough change from a tenner to buy a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for?

70’s vibe

So, I finally finished the latest t shirt – whatdyathink?

No idea where the golden glow is coming from

I have no idea where the golden glow is coming from in this photo.

I’m pretty pleased with this one. I’m glad I went with the navy sleeves, I gave up in the end and bought a t shirt especially for the purpose in a charity shop. £3.50! The metre of 70’s stylee fabric was only £4.99 I think, so that’s not really a bargin for much less than a metre of usable fabric. Still, I now have half a navy t shirt in my stash, just in case.

The sleeve, this is a picture of the sleeve, ok

The sleeve, this is a picture of the sleeve, ok

Can you tell the photo’s are all selfies? I decided to use them anyway for your amusement. Plus I haven’t had chance to get anyone else to take a photo and now we have relatives staying, so that’s unlikely to happen for a few days and in the pre guest arrival tidy up I even packed away my sewing machine and ironing board, so now I’m blogging to try and keep me going until my next sewing fix (I’m fantasising already, but just realised that the fabric needs prewashing and I can’t easily access my stash right now, argghh).

Anyway, the t shirt is another one of Maria Denmark’s Birgitte basic tee (which my mind has accidently renamed a less glamourous sounding Bridget in my head, sorry if that’s slipped out in in text anywhere, I’m afraid it might have). This time a scoop neck, which I like but I wouldn’t like too many like this, I’m used to a higher neckline. The length is as on the pattern and it’s perfect – I’m so pleased to have a fitted t shirt that doesn’t risk exposing me to the world. I tend to find in shop bought clothes, baggy mens style t shirts are long, fitted womens ones are short. Hurrah for being able to make my own clothes.

a bit of puckering on the neckline, but I can live with that

a bit of puckering on the neckline, but I can live with that

And my adjustment to the pattern? Would it surprise you to know I did a full bust adjustment, as per Maria’s instructions. So, this time, I traced the pattern, found my bust apex as before by measuring the distance between my bust apexes (yup, that is as weird a thing to do as it sounds, just makes sure no one walks in on you holding a ruler up to your chest), marking a line on my pattern piece half that distance from the centre front (parallel to my centre front), then holding the pattern piece up to my body and marking the apex on it. I do the hold and mark a couple of times and then use my brain’s in built statistical analysis algorithm (a.k.a. eyeballing it) to mark an appropriate looking depth point on my line based on my splodgey marks.

So, apex found, I followed the instructions add in lines (handily that line parallel to the centre front is one I already need), slash, spread and tape extra bits of paper in place. Not too bad.

Then to eliminate the dart that’s been added. Originally Maria suggested just pinching it out and ignoring the bulge, but I realised when making this t shirt that she has since updated her advice on include how to remove the bust dart. My initial thought was “noooo, more complicated steps”, but in for a penny, in for a pound – and not too long later I had an adjusted pattern. I find the steps that look complicated when you’re researching them are actually easier to get your head round when you have the piece of paper in your hand to manipulate, maybe that’s just me?

From then on, it was pretty straight forward to construct. Oh, I altered the sleeves to be a little puffy – I’m not sure it’s that noticable but at least I learnt another new pattern adjusting trick. And I pilfered the ribbed collar from an old polo shirt to make the neckband, which maybe I shouldn’t have done as it’s a little stiff, but it’s ok when I’m wearing it I think.

awesome fabric

Close up of my awesome fabric

The fit of this Birgitte is much better than the last one because this proper FBA adds width further down the t shirt too, unlike the easy method, and that is width which I clearly need (try as I might to deny it).

Hmm, not sure

The last Birgitte, for comparison, although it’s a slightly unfair comparison as the fabric on the 70’s one is stretchier and generally a bit better

So, I think I may have got myself a tried and tested basic t shirt pattern, well at least until I go and change shape again. Woohoo. Now my easily distracted brain will want to figure out something more complicated. But for now I award it a Certificate of Basic Competence in FBA’s on Jersey.

In the buff

So, as well as making the door stop yesterday I recovered a chair cushion in the same fabric. Pretty speedy (I just drew round the existing cushion, made by my mum) so I managed to get it done before the boy worked out what was going on and had any design input. Not really worth blogging about, but when I was tidying the large pile of rubbish of the chair today (see, finally doing some housework) in order to rehome it I found something I finished last week, can you tell what it is?

cushion and "buff"

cushion and “buff” – at a jaunty angle that I have neither the time nor patience to sort out

I started it 3-4 years ago when I was in a knitting phase. I was knitting lots of hats in chunky yarn
at the time and decided I wanted to make a buff/circular scarf thing. Someone told me to use sock yarn, the thinner ply makes a more buff like fabric. I bought a skein of Juno sock yarn, I think it’s hand dyed, it’s a subtly variagated purple/heather thing. It was quite expensive but I was reassured it would go a long way. It did. Eventually.

In Action

In Action

I knitted it in the round on 4 needles, a 2 in 2 rib, I presume I did a tension swatch. Easy knitting but it took sooooo looooong. At one point I was made to make the boy something similar, in double knit (much quicker), which has recently been replaced. Then it got put down for a couple of years. Then started again on a train journey, where I discovered lots of dropped stitches and had to pick them up. So the end result is not amazing quality. The tension varies a bit in places and those picked up stitches on a train don’t look so pretty. But I finished it!

Working scarf, could be drapier

Working scarf, could be drapier

In fact the main issue I had was deciding when to cast it off. It’s 7″ long in the end, not as long as a “proper” buff but also no where near as thin so I thought that was enough. Then I had to rediscover how to do the stretchy cast off – but in this thin yarn it looks a bit loopy and messy, probably my knitting. Then it was done, no seams, yay for knitting in the round.

It’s a bit baggy in the end, wish I’d done my initial calculations better back in the day. And it’s not very drapey when worn as a scarf. But tis done, finally, and I’m not ripping it and starting again now!

Doubled over as a headband

Doubled over as a headband

Back to sewing rectangles

Last week my to do list had “tidy the house!” at the top of it. Seriously overdue and needed as my friend was coming to stay for the weekend. Somehow though, life transpired to stop me achieving this. Oh well, she is a very good friend, she coped.

This week, my to do list has “No really, tidy the house” at the top, as my in laws are coming to stay on Thursday. And to start my week I had an ill boy at home, who was just fine from about 10am onwards.

Anyway, we made a good start on the dining room and he did a stella job rubbing all the fingermarks of the glass door. Then I got distracted by the door stop. It’s rubbish and keeps coming out. I did buy a better one because it annoys me so much, but the kids bedroom door annoys hubby more so it ended up upstairs. So, a while ago I bought some playsand with the idea of making a door weight and it turns out Today Was The Day. Plus it gave me a chance to set the boy an interesting maths challenge, thereby keeping him happy and amused (what can I say, he takes after his mum and finds maths fun) and assuaging some of my doubts/guilt at my decision to keep him off school.

I’d decided to keep the door stop simple and make a cube rather than a fancier shape. I’ve made cube bean bags in the past and they’re straight forward. I challenged the boy to design a net for a cube – the shape you draw on a flat piece of paper that you can cut out and fold into a cube. I gave him a dice* for reference and some graph paper and he came up with a working T shape net, complete with unasked for tabs in the right places to glue it together.

I then explained that when I make a cube from fabric, I prefer to use 2 rectangles, as I can squeeze it out of a smaller piece of fabric and don’t have odd shapes left over after cutting out. I love this method of making a cube, it’s not one you’d necessarily come up with but once you’ve seen it it’s quite elegant.
I didn’t find this method described during my doorstop, so in case anyone is interested, here’s how it works. This works for any kind of cube, so far I’ve used it to make bean bags and now doorstops.

easier to do than explain

easier to do than explain

Start by choosing how wide (and therefore how tall and deep too) you want your cube to be. The boy decided 6 1/2″ would make a good doorstop, so I got him to draw and cut out a 6 1/2″ square on the grid paper. Then I traced out 3 of these in a row and added seam allowance to make my pattern piece. You need two of these.

basic cube pattern piece, 3 squares long by 1 wide, plus seam allowance, cut 2.

basic cube pattern piece, 3 squares long by 1 wide, plus seam allowance, cut 2.

Mine got a little more complicated as I had a remnant of pale green upholstery fabric that toned with the curtains but I was concerned the bottom would get dirty, so I decided to use some salvaged brown cord from some ex trousers for the base panel. Then I decided to make the bottom inch of each of the side panels brown too. But that’s just me needlessly complicating things.

with added handle (mine is in the centre of  the middle square)

with added handle (mine is in the centre of the middle square)

I made a simple handle for the top. I’m sure everyone can do that, but just for the record cut a piece of fabric the length of your handle and twice the width plus seam allowance, fold in half width ways, sew seam, turn inside out (not so fun with thick fabric, don’t make it too narrow), move seam to be in middle of back (so it doesn’t show) and press. I sewed it across the middle of one of my middle squares, but it could go on any square, cubes being quite symmetrical and all.

My other pattern pieces, plus helper

My other pattern piece, plus helper

I thought about appliqueing a basic winter tree shape on one side in the brown cord then adding some leaves with some scraps of green linen I had. However, my companion had other ideas.

my design assistant (director?) doodles an approved design on some scrap fabric

my design assistant (director?) doodled a design on some scrap fabric

In the end he we decided that he would draw a tree on each of the 4 sides for me and then I would zig zag machine embroider over the top in green/blue thread (delete as appropriate depending on your colour vision, but I’m right, it’s green, even if it doesn’t look it so much in the photo’s).

some more doodling and machine embroidery later, the pattern pieces are ready to assemble

some more doodling and machine embroidery later, the pattern pieces are ready to assemble (the tailors chalk is still showing under the stitching)

To avoid having to do right angle turns, I sewed it together one side at a time. To start with, you sew a short end from one piece to the middle third of the long side of another, right sides together.

The first seam

The first seam

After that you just work your way around – it should be fairly obvious what goes where.

3 seams in, starting to look 3 dimensional

3 seams in, starting to look 3 dimensional

When I made the bean bags I made an inner cube shaped bean bag that had the beans stitched in and a slightly larger cover. For that I didn’t sew up the last 3 seams, so I had a flap. Instead I sewed velcro to the seam allowance so the cover could be held in place.

nearly there (hmm, upside down tree with falling leaves now looks like a face)

nearly there (hmm, upside down tree with falling leaves now looks like a face)

It was pretty painless, although not perfect. If I was worried about that I should have taken a little more time and waited until my helper wasn’t around. But mainly I wanted it done, and the only visible annoyance is that my brown base to the sides doesn’t line up in places. I can live with that, it kind of fits in with the simple tree design.

finished bar stuffing

finished bar stuffing

In the end I used a spoon to fill the door stop with sand. Then I sewed the hole up by hand. The hole could go anywhere, I left it on a side seam, so it was slightly less noticable than at the top buy hopefully my hand stitching was under slightly less under pressure than a seam on the base.

all done

all done

The finished door stop works and looks good (hubby really likes it) and so far hasn’t leaked any sand (time will tell). The 6 1/2″ is a good size, it could maybe be a little smaller, but it holds the heavy door well and is still easily liftable. I could have got a little more sand in it, but I thought the sides would just bulge out. Gravity + sand tends to mean it ends up a little bottom heavy (I want to say pear shaped, but that makes it sound like it went wrong, which it hasn’t), but I can live with that.

I’ve decided it’s a bit like this cool mother/daughter artistic collaboration, if you squint.

Now I have plans for one in a more exciting, in a deliberately bottom heavy shape…. But first I really do have to finish tidying the house. And next time, I’ll do it solo (not because I don’t like how this one came out, it’s just sometimes I like to do things my way).

*yeah, I know, technically it’s a die, but no one actually says that.


So, I got all excited about the Lola dress pattern, had a bit of a time getting my pdf set to work and then, finally made the dress. And now I’m feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

This outfit got me a compliment on the school run ...... for my boots. (Bonus points if you noticed I have matching mug and dress).

This outfit got me a compliment on the school run …… for my boots. (Bonus points if you noticed I now have a matching mug and dress).

A major problem is the fabric. I found it when checking out the fleece fabric for a kid related thing. In the darkish side room of the shop, amongst the red fleece with giant orange stars and white fleece with multicoloured flowers, it looked like a sophisticated olive green rib. I wasn’t overly keen at its mystery synthetic content, but at £3.99/m I decided to go for it. The fabric is somekind of ribbish thing, with little loops on the front (kind of like toweling) when you peer closely and it’s. The backside is fleecey.

Back view, a bit baggy

Back view, a bit baggy

When I got it home it just looked drab and cheap and synthetic, but by then I had 2 1/2 m of the stuff so I went ahead and cut the pieces out. I was surprisingly patient with this, I usually hate cutting out and there were a lot of pieces. A to K – 11 different pattern pieces ending up with 14 different bits of cut fabric (maybe that’s not so much, but recently I’ve been making t shirts, which have 5 pieces, so it seemed a lot). I decided to make up my pattern lay out as I went along, cutting it on the flat to help get the ribbing properly vertical but also to squeeze more out, as the fabric lay out for the larger sizes looked to have a lot of waste fabric down one side. I saved a lot of fabric, I think I may have a metre left and I cut the ribbing pieces out of the main fabric too. However, I’m unsure what I would ever want to make with the left over (I did threaten to make hubby a tank top out of it, as it’d be easier than the darn waistcoat, but I think I was joking).

Mmm, pockets....

Mmm, pockets….

Once cut out it was a breeze to make. I read the instructions, got my head around the construction and didn’t need to look at them again until attaching the bands, it was that simple. There are no buttonholes or zips or gathers or complicated new sewing techniques to decipher. Yay. You make a top, and a skirt and then sew them together. The skirt is really easy, fold over and sew tops of pockets, baste pockets to side pieces, join side pieces to front and back pieces, job done. The top is the same kind of deal, with 4 pieces (front, back and 2 sides) but slightly trickier as there are princess seams at the front and the sleeves are raglan and attached last (and you can’t try the top on until then as it won’t stay up, ask me how I know). The pattern has a nice amount of notches for my taste, enough to double check the pieces are going together right but not silly irritating ones that you don’t really need (i.e. some patters have one in the middle of a shoulder seam which is basically sewing two straight 3 inch wide pieces of fabric together – am I the only person who finds this irritating in a “you made me waste time cutting notches because you think I can’t match up two 3 inch long straight bits of fabric” kind of way?).

The only real construction issue that I had was that in places there were lots of layers of fabric and my fabric was quite thick. The pattern instructions have you press the seams to one side, rather than open, so when I was sewing on my doubled over ribbing band to the bottom of my side piece, with pocket, I had a whopping 7 layers of fabric to sew through (pocket, side panel, seam allowance of pocket, seam allowance of side panel, seam allowance of centre panel, 2 layers of ribbing) and I did break a needle at one point. Oh and I mistakenly matched the seamline on the bottom ribbing to a seam line at the front, rather than the back as I intended, so now I see that seam every time I sit down.

At this angle, it just looks like a sack. Albeit one with lovely pockets.

At this angle, it just looks like a sack. Albeit one with lovely pockets.

So, one quick dress. In some rather uninspiring fabric. And the fit could be better too. My upper bust fell into size 12 category, my full bust size 14, my waist above size 16 (eek) and my hips size 16. As I have never done a FBA on a princess seam before and was initially confused by what was going on with the side panels of the dress (what with the princess seam at front and then wrapping around to be a third of the back, they look a bit of a strange shape!) I decided to wimp out and go with the size 16. After all, surely it wasn’t really necessary to make the bust of a size 12 bigger only to then try and work out how to grade the whole thing with it’s high low seam out to a bigger size, was it?

Took this one myself so the angle is, err, a little unusual, but I think you can see the excess fabric around the neck and the bulgy neckline.

Took this one myself so the angle is, err, a little unusual, but I think you can see the excess fabric around the neck and the bulgy neckline.

It’s wearable but the top of the princess seams (on my upper bust, surprise surprise) is too big. And it’s baggy at the back. But I think the worst bit is the front of the join between the top and the skirt. This seam is high at the front and low at the back and at the front it looks wierd on me. Initially I thought this was just because the it was kind of like an empire line style (although less baggy underneath) which has never looked good on me. Then I realised that the seam line doesn’t fall under my bust, as it does on slimmer people I’ve seen wearing it, but is actually on my lower bust. It’s back to basics here – that fuller bust of mine needs more length of fabric to go around it, and that’s what I’m missing, so the seam is hitting too high. Oh and the upper arms seem a bit tight which is an issue I’ve encountered before (but I’ve now found a tutorial for bigger biceps (aka fat arms) for future makes).

I'm really pleased with how my "decal" came out. Less chuffed that the neckband doesn't sit flat though.

I’m really pleased with how my “decal” came out. Less chuffed that the neckband doesn’t sit flat though.

On a positive front, I’m pleased with my little decal on the front. I used the fluffier fleecey reverse of the fabric and just zig zagged it in place, overrunning the ends a little like I’ve seen on shop bought garments and it looks pretty good. I used the wrong side for the “ribbing” too as I wasn’t going to get a contrast fabric to match easily and that looks good (although the bottom band is starting to pill gah and the neckband doesn’t sit flat, which is annoying). The dress is comfy to wear, it’s basically a big sweater, but it’s long enough to not make me worry. I’ve worn it 3 days in a row (not uncommon for me, I tend to wear things until they’re dirty unless the weather changes). And I do like the big pockets, even though they’re ridiculous.

flashing a bit of knee and showing the pilling at my bottom band.

flashing a bit of knee and showing the pilling at my bottom band.

I’m glad I didn’t buy expensive fabric for it. I can’t decide weather to try and make it again to try and resolve some of the issues. I’m not sure I’m enthusiastic enough about the potential to make the effort. But then again, I ended up paying a lot for the pattern and printing combined, so it would be nice to get my money’s worth out of it. I’m pretty sure that I can fix some of the bagginess in the back issues on this one by taking in the seams a little (although I’m not sure I can face unpicking neckbands to look at the upper front bagginess) so I might try that first.

Bonus shot for you, the one hubby took when I wasn't  looking (obviously) as "you're always wanting photo's in different locations". Not sure this is what I had in mind... More bonus points if you spotted I now have a matching dress and kitchen cupboards, useful!

Bonus shot for you, the one hubby took when I wasn’t looking (obviously) as “you’re always wanting photo’s in different locations”. Not sure this is what I had in mind… More bonus points if you spotted I now have a matching dress and kitchen cupboards, useful!


Update: I wrote this post yesterday but didn’t have any photo’s. I managed a rather lack lustre photo shoot today, partly due to the rain, partly due to not feeling inspired by the dress. Before I had chance to add them I saw a lovely friend of mine. She loved the dress and declared it to be both practical and stylish and was surprised that I’d made it (and she is very talended at sewing herself). She then started waxing lyrical about the Gudrun Sjoden drab collection. I’m guessing she was meaning the colourway, but there are some tunics. I’m flattered as the garments there are very cool.

Anyway, she has instructed me to make another one again straight away. If I do I think I’ll need to do a FBA (eek). Hopefully that’ll mean I don’t need to take in the side seams at the back (which I feel really need doing on this one). Also, we both agree the sleeves would be improved by being 2 inches longer. However, I may need to take her fabric shopping with me as I was telling her about the burgandy sweater knit I’d seen locally that I have plans for and she has forbidden me to wear burgandy as she reckons it washes me out. I was given a long list of colours I can wear, but I’ve forgotten all but one of them, pink, I was so horrified by the thought of wearing pink that my mind has blanked the rest.

So, there may be a Lola mark II. Then again, I may get distracted. I’ve remembered I wanted to use my black needle cord to make a Bleuet a bit like this one (although the worry of gaping is now putting me off slightly).

List of projects I’m currently sulking at / ignoring

Because, you know, it’s good to keep a track….

The T shirt I posted about yesterday, due to suddenly realising I need navy fabric to finish it, which I don’t have.

The half made muslin for my Clover jeans, fabric brought last Christmas hols, pattern bought new years eve, can’t remember when I started this muslin, do know I’ve sewn one of the pockets on inside out and stalled once I realised I was supposed to sew a fly zip in a garment made out of an old sheet that I will never wear. And then it will probably look horrendous and I will have to work out how to alter it. And it may take 2 or 3 more goes before I get the muslin right. In the mean time all my jeans have now fallen apart, I’m surviving on lighter weight trousers but as the days get colder I’m gonna run into serious trouble soon as I cannot find trousers that fit in the shop.

The Waistcoat for Hubby’s Christmas present, 2013. He’s muttering about buying one. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t had to make so many alterations. Although, come to think of it I think the wearable muslin is ok bar length, so maybe I should just get my act together.

The bunch of sun hats that I started cutting out at the beginning of the summer. All 6 of them, or was it 7. Reversible Oliver and S bucket hats like I made before. One of which will now be too small for the intended recipient. To be fair on the sun hats, it’s not really fair to sulk at them because I didn’t get my act together before sunhat weather ended.

The copy of my polka dot skirt that I was making for a friend, and realised I’d messed up the pattern pieces, because it’s not as simple as cutting down your pattern piece to a smaller size if for the some curves the smaller size should have gone outside the larger, but you forgot that because you cut those bits off when making your skirt.

There are of course, other things languishing on my pile, which I am not actually sulking at, just haven’t got round to and have quite possibly forgotten about.

Of course, ask me what projects I’m enthused about and I have a huge long list, of things I haven’t started yet with more idea’s coming faster than I can write them down….

And now for something completely different…

Sorry, I lied. I’ve been making another t shirt. From part of my Brighton shopping haul.

70's stylee on the left

70’s stylee on the left, sort of abstract clouds with stars in shades of greyey blue

This time another Brigitte, but with a round neck and an attempt at a proper FBA.

Actually, despite the FBA instructions having got even more steps in since I last looked, that part seems to be going ok. Not that I’m quite sure yet. Because I haven’t finished it. The problem is the sleeves….

I decided this top was crying out for slightly gathered sleeve heads. (Nope, no good reason, but then I am related to the boy. I found a tutorial a bit like this (i.e. I have lost the original tutorial I was following and this seems very similar) and got to work. Puffy sleeve adjustments you hold no fear for me now that I can sort of do a FBA!

Soon I had a new pattern piece drafted by the oh so scientific method of make the new gappy bits at the top the width of my smallest cooking pattern weight. But was it puffy enough, or too puffy? How to tell? Enter Smugly Sensible Husband – can you pin on a sample one?

Rummages through fabric sprawl and finds scrap of old polo shirt that has been cut up already. Hand sews erroneous cut in fabric together, cuts out sample sleeve, hand gathers and tacks into place, tacking underarm sleeve seam and top of side seam together too.

Look how unexpectedly great the navy sleeve looks with the print of the main t shirt

Look how unexpectedly great the navy sleeve looks with the print of the main t shirt

Sleeve is lovely, spot on. Almost a shame to cut sleeve in actual cloudy/starry fabric as the navy blue looks so darn fine, but then I don’t have enough of this blue and plus it’s too thick for the main top. Go to cut cloudy/starry fabric. It’s not big enough for the altered sleeve, only the as drafted sleeve. Unless I cut it at 90 degrees to the right angle, which surely will result in wierd drooping of sleeve over time. Remember navy blue t shirt that I never wear as it’s branded with my old work logo all over the front. Surely the back will be big enough for two sleeve heads? Go to find t shirt, search high and low, but it is sadly not there, suspected given to charity shop in a now forgotten organised frenzy. Sulk. Briefly wonder about cutting sleeves from the oh so soft 3rd and as yet unused fabric but decide against that as there is only a metre and that top will need it’s own sleeves. Sulk some more. Put out Facebook request for unwanted navy blue t shirts in the vain hope that loyal friend will bring one round immediately.

Amazing proto type gather effects from scientific pattern altering method (imagine I'd sewn it properly rather than badly hand tacked it with large rushed stitches)

Amazing proto type gather effects from scientific pattern altering method (imagine I’d sewn it properly rather than badly hand tacked it with large rushed stitches)

Go and buy wine. Say goodbye to husband who is going out for well deserved night out. Check facebook. No replies at all let alone from generous friends about to rush round with fabric in my hour of need. Sulk some more. Drink some wine. Post yet another rambling blog post.

Now, where is that Lola Pattern….

Pattern Frustrations

So, I did it, after a while of stalking Victory Pattern’s Lola Dress on the internet I finally went ahead and bought the pattern. I’m still not sure that I’m going to use my precious fabric on it, but I decided I would definitely like to make it in some other fabric, and then after that, we’ll see.

So, the pattern cost $12.95 CAD, which cost me £7.45 on the day I bought it (I’m guessing that will vary with exchange rates). I noticed it had a Copy Shop version as well as print at home. Now, I’ve been having awful trouble with PDF’s, which I have moaned about lots on the blog, and how once printed out on my printer it is technically impossible to get all the lines to meet up. And that hassle only starts once I get the whole thing printed out, which is usually not so easy as it should be.

I remembered reading ages ago in a post from Toni at Sew Jereli that she’d had a pattern printed cheaply and I’d been meaning to try this. I double checked just now, it was $3 AUS she paid – I don’t know the exchange rate but that’s definitely in the “not much” category. Anwyay, I decided a few pounds for a pattern piece was surely worth the lack of hassle sticking it together and deciding which lines to match and which to fudge, plus I dread to think how much of my horrendously expensive ink cartridge it would use.

So I phoned my local copy shop and asked if they could do it. Yeah, no problem, email it through and we’ll ring when it’s ready to collect, but our minimum price is £5.77. That seemed a bit steep, but as there are 30 tiled pages in the print at home version I decided it was worth it to have it all on one piece of paper, after all, that must be the advantage of getting it printed at the copy shop, right?

Well, they phoned back a little later (nice quick service) and said it was ready to collect. I asked the price and was shocked to discover it was over £9! (I didn’t write it down, I think they may have said £9.57). I went to collect it the next day when the rain had abated (I didn’t fancy carrying my paper pattern home in a heavy downpour, and no, I don’t have a car) and got distracted discussing the pattern with them, I clearly wasn’t paying attention as I checked when I got home and I actually paid £10.18 (50p card cost maybe?) – meaning that between purchase and printing my pattern cost a whopping £17.63 – surely I could’ve bought a whole pattern book for that! (As a comparison, the fabric I just picked up to make my first version with is £3.99/m, admitedly that’s cheap, but I’ve bought 2 1/2 m which I hope will do the whole thing so that cost me £9.98 plus some thread).

So, what was I discussing at the copy shop to distract me so? (In my defense I was paying assistant A who started serving me whilst at the same time chatting to assistant B who wandered over to talk to me as it was she that had done the work). Well, they hadn’t printed a sewing pattern before (the bloke seemed a little confused as to why I’d even want to but he politely didn’t say anything). Because this one was Canadian it was in inches, not cm (technically we’re metric here in the UK, but most sewer’s I know still use inches). I assume that was why it didn’t quite quite fit on one page, because she said it didn’t so she had to do some jigging about. She said she could’ve shrunk it to fit – luckily she didn’t! (I guess even I, in true British-Cannot-Complain-Just-Sulk-Later Mode would have put my foot down and refused to pay for a shrunken pattern). Instead she ended up tiling the image – which was quite complicated for her to do as Victory had quite reasonably password protected the document. So I’ve ended up with 4 (huge) sheets of paper.

Looking at the pattern, I think I understand. I’ll try and explain verbally since I don’t think I should post a photo of pattern details online! The pattern seems to be just a couple of inches too wide for the paper (presumably this is the Canada/UK paper size difference akin to the Letter/A4 one I’m sure everyone is familiar is), so she’s rotated it 90 degrees so it going cross the grain (so to speak). Obviously it is too long to then fit on the width of the paper, so it actually fits on 3 pages, with a bit of overlap as on a normal pdf. Then she’s printed a 4th piece from the middle – I think this was to get some of the pattern pieces in whole rather than across a join. I will still have to do some taping together, but no where near as much as with a normal print at home, although without the “cut off here” lines. I think it’ll be ok.

I think the lesson I learnt from this is that I should’ve emailed them the document and asked for a quote to print it. And then maybe I would’ve been able to discuss options when they realised it wasn’t going to be straightforward rather than have them guess what would be best. Possibly just getting them to concentrate on printing the bigger pattern pieces and doing the smaller bits at home. Or maybe just deciding to call it quits.

I wondered afterwards how my costs compared to buying a paper copy. On the Victory website I could’ve bought and paid for posting to the UK on the pattern for $27.30 CAD, at the exchange rate I had the other day that would’ve been £15.69 which would’ve been cheaper although not as speedy (I’ve no idea on timescales for post from Canada to the UK). A quick (but not thorough) internet search also showed me that I could have bought the paper copy in the UK and had it delivered from Trixie Lixie for £17.50 + £2.75 for standard delivery equalling £20.25 – so at least I was cheaper than that!

I just wondered if anyone else has tried printing patterns at copy shops. Were you successful? What was the price like? Did you encounter problems with paper size? Do you think it’s worth it?

As for me, as this really is the most convenient copy shop available, I will certainly think twice before trying it again. So, for me, it’s back to figuring out how to get my printer to print a pdf “properly” – or maybe I should stop getting pattern idea’s from blogs and start looking at what’s available in my local shops (which is almost all Big 4 stuff).

Yet another in a seemingly endless line of t shirt makes

More details (he went and changed into some fairly bright checked shorts with this t shirt after the photo shoot, his taste in clothes is certainly not constrained by convention)

Details shot featuring KitchsyKoo scored navy fabric with orange stars (he went and changed into some fairly bright checked shorts with this t shirt after the photo shoot, his taste in clothes is certainly not constrained by convention)

The Mission: Make the boy a t shirt out of scraps from my t shirt plus some of the small bits from Kitschykoo in order to make things even after little sister got a t shirt from leftovers

Sleeves, check

Sleeves, check

The Original Idea: Black front and back, with the navy blue fabric with orange stars on used for sleeves, neckband, a band around the bottom and to applique his initial on the front. Oh and using Simplicity 1573 again.

Proof of pocket function

Proof of pocket function

The Design Brief: Unfortunately the boy got wind of this and asked for a kangaroo pocket on the front with access only at one side (?!) and patches of the star fabric sewn on the main fabric at random.

Back view - with added atmospheric shadows

Back view – with added atmospheric shadows

The Compromise: Black front with star kangaroo pocket (with conventional double opening), star sleeves, star neckline, and over half of the back in star fabric due to limitations of resources.

neckband prepared and about to be attached

neckband prepared and about to be attached

The Make: Fairly straight forward. The neckline I attached like over sized bias binding again. No disasters. Oh, I decided to widen the neckline before adding the neckband as it’s cut for a 1.5cm seam allowance that I wouldn’t be using. I just trimmed it by eye. Then had to spend 10 minutes trying to neaten it up so it was symmetrical again. I settled for “good enough” and repeated my mantra when sewing children’s clothes “he won’t keep still long enough for anyone to notice” until I forgot about it.

He wanted to prove the pocket had double access to you all

He wanted to prove the pocket had double access to you all

The Kangaroo pocket: Self drafted, by eye. Double sided so the white back to the star fabric doesn’t show. I folded a piece into a rectangle about the right size, decided to take a little length off, cut the corners of to make the slopey pocket opening, sewed almost all the way around with right sides folded together, turned it the right way out, pressed it, topstitched the pocket openings with my twin needle, topstitched it down with my twin needle. Done.

I do feed him, honest.

I do feed him, honest.

Other design features: The join of fabrics on the back has topstitching to hold the seam allowance in place. The back was cut too long so I could trim it to the correct length, then I decided to have a high low hem. I drew and cut a pretty curve shape at the sides, but then I was in a hurry to finish it before school pick up, so it ended up with slopey bits at either side that are approximately symmetrical, if you don’t look too closely (lets repeat that mantra again, altogether now….)

Pose - models own (I'm thinking Star Trek Next Gen)

Pose – models own (I’m thinking Star Trek Next Gen)

The verdict: I decided part way through that I didn’t like the two fabrics together, they were somehow neither similar nor contrasty enough. But in the end they look fine. And the boy is happy, he has a new t shirt especially made for him, so all is fair in the world. For now.

And one for luck

And one for luck