Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ottobre Fleece finally finished?

This is style number 19 from Ottobre design magazine Autumn/Winter 5/2012. It was a long project. I had to sew in 10 or 15 minute snatches due to demands in other areas of life (work is getting in the way of sewing!!).

Here is the front view ably modeled by my trusted body double, Gloria:



The zip truly isn't wider at the top and the sleeves are the same length. I am just not good at taking photos!

I made this out of fleece made from recycled plastic and plastic bottles, supplied by Fabricuk.com. They have super speedy delivery for both swatches and fabric so I was very pleased with their service. You do need a swatch though, as the colours on the monitor are misleadingly garish. (In real life this fleece is a greener teal rather than the blue it appears).

Using Ottobre design magazine - tracing was pretty straightforward. The pattern sheets are alphabetically coded, then the designs are colour coded on each sheet. My only real issue was difficulty finding the grainlines which were finer than on envelope patterns, with a very small arrowhead. I used a double-edged tracing wheel to add seam allowances directly to the fabric. I added 5/8 inch rather than the 1cm suggested as I knew I would automatically use 5/8 inch and end up with a too small a garment otherwise. The jury is out on Ottobre sizing for me as I have an hourglass figure and I choose the size according to my bust. (There was no way I was going to attempt an FBA on an asymmetric jacket making up the pattern with no toile). I could nip in the side seams but I probably won't. I made this garment for comfort and function so a perfect fit is not essential. I did have to redraft the sleeve head area, but am unsure whether this was due to fabric choice or the fact that my shoulders are quite narrow compared to my bust size (now I look at the shoulders  they could have been a little higher still).

Making up the coat - I spent as much time thinking about the construction as I did sewing! There are fairly brief written instructions in the magazine, however it turned out I am more of a diagram person. I pretty much abandoned the instructions and pinned everything to my tailors dummy, sewing in what I thought was a logical order. To be fair it was mostly my own fault as I wanted an unlined jacket that could be worn across the seasons and the instructions were for a lined coat in an entirely different type of material. If I had been lining the coat, I would have used the instructions much more. I made facings for a neat finish, so that when the coat is unzipped and falls open everything looks smooth. Other than the issues I have already mentioned, which I tend to attribute to my shape, the drafting was excellent. Every notch matched beautifully.

Snuggly and warm in my new coat. It was 9c this weekend so I expect  it  to get  quite a bit of use !
I love the look of the collar from the back

However, there is just one little problem...



Remind you of anything? A gnome perhaps?! I am seriously considering rounding off the hood. It would be a shame because the symmetry of the point looks good down and matches perfectly with the centre back seam. But let's be honest, wouldn't most people find this look hilarious?!

New guise aside, I will sew from Ottobre design magazine again, as I have discovered I am patient enough to do the tracing. There are some more original looking designs in it I would like to try (all easier than this coat!). If I make up several items, it will have been very good value for money indeed.

Next up on my blog & hopefully hundreds of others! Me-Made-May 2013!

Happy sewing, 'til next time!




Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Simplicity 1920 - A simple top for spring

I have made a new top :)

Here I am wearing it enjoying the first day of warmer temperatures with one of my trusty canine companions:


It's a woven T-shirt (at least that's how I would describe it), but with darts, made entirely from a large a-line skirt I bought from our charity shop. It didn't really yield enough fabric for a top but I liked it enough to fiddle about until I got the spots aligned centre front and back. I don't know if you can see on the photo, but the spots have broken lines floating across them, they look like spooky full moons (or a romantic sunset, depending on your turn of mind). If I was in to naming my clothes, which I'm not (honestly, naming the kids was hard enough!), I would call it the Full Moon Top. So maybe it's just as well I leave the clothes naming to  others!! The sleeves are cut as one with the body and the scoop neck is finished like a knit, stretching bias around to fit. I like this finish better than turn and sew.

This is the second time I have made this top. I like the deep scoop neck on my 'busty' figure. The first time I followed the instructions for the 'sleeves' which was to edge-stitch them and leave a little slit at the end. I thought it made them stick out strangely and just sewed to the end this time. The sleeves still stick out but the finish is better and I think this shape is quite good for arm flattery.

The only other alteration I made was to add an inch to the length and make an elastic casing so the fabric kind of bags instead of hanging straight. I should have taken a picture standing up and back view too, but being new to blogging and still not enjoying having my picture taken, I went for what was most comfortable.The photo does not show the top off to the best effect. It looks like my posture could use some work, too!

This is the pattern envelope:


Not incredibly inspiring I agree but plenty of scope for adding details and quick to sew up, so I will definitely be making this again.

In other sewing news: It's time to sign up for Me-Made-May if you're doing it this year. I am signing up but am currently thinking what the best pledge would be for me, given that I still have very few handmade clothes and Zoe's (very sensible) prohibition on panic sewing!! I will post when I have decided.
My fleece coat is progressing and my pile of sewing for others is about where it was...it's quite boring to read about all my alterations, and really I started to post about them to force myself to do them. So I have decided to take the pile and do it all in one massive sewing session. Tell you when it's done, then none of us need ever hear of this again :) I have got some lovely new ideas for my blog for after May which I am looking forward to sharing.

Gratuitous cute dogs pic to sign off!


Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

What I sewed in March and how pride came before a fall!

The approach to Easter is always busy in our house, sewing this month was snatches here and there.

First up was dance show outfits, not for me! I'm not posting them - it was just light refashioning combined with multiple sequin sewing. I will say to anyone thinking of embellishing with sequins on fine floaty fabric by hand, it looses it's allure surprisingly quickly. The results were worth it, but judge me if you will, all I could think of by the time I finished was I want to sew for meeeee!

So instead of tracing the Ottobre fleece coat I decided to make my TNT a-line skirt from some fabric I  bought for £2.45 from my local charity shop. It's not my usual 'thing' as it's floral, but I figured it would be an inexpensive experiment. The pattern cost 25p, it is literally the best pattern I have ever bought due to it's excellent fit. I would guess it's from the late '60's or early 70's. I was totally unaware of the esteem in which vintage patterns are held by some, so after buying it I sliced n diced it and ironed it on to interfacing for reinforcement without a hint of tracing, and the instructions were...recycled.I realise now I should have kept all the bits, especially as it also included a pattern for a 'sweater top and jerkin'. I am still not sure I have a use for a sweater top and jerkin, but it would be interesting to see what they were, as I have long since forgotten.

This skirt cuts out and sews up itself practically. I have to be truthful I was patting myself on the back thinking I would have a new skirt by the end of the evening. Then I got to the zip and realised I had cut the two back pieces the same, instead of mirror images. There wasn't much fabric so I must have been getting creative with the layout and forgotten to turn the piece over. The fabric I was going to squeeze the waistband out of had to be used, there was just enough. Then the zip insertion went wrong and had to be redone. At one stage I felt that revenge was being wreaked for my boastful thoughts, shortly before I realised it was more likely that tiredness was to blame for the mistakes and paranoia...I did finish it, as it became personal! As ever, it fits beautifully, but I will not model it now as I am still sulking!!


The rest of my sewing was stuff I had to do from the pile. I cropped a t-shirt for my eldest daughter (it had those ties on it - neither of us has ever really got on with those), and secured yet more twisted elastic in pj casing (in bygone times I didn't know about non-roll elastic or about stitching it down at the seams. Hopefully this is the last pair with twisty elastic!). I also completed this refashion for her from an enormous dress we bought at the charity shop, a really simple case of chopping it in half at the waist then making a new top and skirt by making casings for elastic (bottom of top and top of skirt), plus shortening the skirt. They are really fun beach pieces for the summer, just looking at them makes me feel cheerful! My daughter's intention is to wear the top with high waisted jeans or shorts. Not the two items together!



I like to keep an eye out for pieces that can be refashioned or used as fabric, it keeps my clothing and sewing costs down, makes unique clothes and obviously the money goes to a good cause. I also enjoy the variety in charity shops, it's much more stimulating than lots of the same thing on a rack (or maybe that's just me!).

The only other thing I found time for this month was eventually tracing and cutting out the Ottobre fleece. I will blog it when it's done. I'm not worried that the weather will improve too much to wear it, as in England it is best to have the following items to hand all year round: a waterproof, a fleece or a cardigan, wellies, flip flops and suncream. It is not unusual for our holiday weather to look like this:

Photograph taken by Roger Lincoln during one of our holidays last year!

I hope you are having fun with your spring/autumn sewing (depending on where you are!), and the sun is shining on your endeavours!

Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Spring Sewing Magazine Review

Confession: I bought 5 sewing magazines last month. Excuse: spent hours at my daughter's rehearsals (the other side of the county) and needed to fill them 'productively'. I haven't included Burda in my review as it's virtually all patterns, the magazines I am reviewing are more general news and projects type mags. Of course the following is just my opinion and I would love to hear any else's.

So, in strict alphabetical order, first up is Cloth (subtitle - Make It Your Own), issue 15.



I had never heard of Cloth, but Tilly mentioned it on her blog so when I saw it in the newsagents I thought I would give it a go.

Cost: £4.99
Number of pages: 98
Number of projects: 23. 
Type of projects: Most of the projects were small (such as make a petal collar) or upcycling (add studs to a shirt, cut up a t-shirt, jazz up your wellies). There was one rather pretty plaid flounced skirt pattern, a very trendy colour blocked clutch bag pattern, simple instructions for a round cushion and a great idea for turning lace doilies into a lace look lampshade, among others.
Sewing content: Not huge when it comes to sewing actual garments, the plaid skirt pattern would have to be upscaled from a grid and redrawn on squared paper (not going to happen in my case) or downloaded from the Cloth website and taped together. For those used to buying downloadable patterns this wouldn't be a problem, obviously.
General style: Cloth has a trendy look to it. It really appealed to my 13 year old daughter who read it with me. She was interested in many of the projects. I enjoyed the article about Catherine Martin, a very talented costume designer who has designed stunning period look outfits for many a Hollywood film. I also liked the 'look in my wardrobe' feature as I find the style of others fascinating, and the article about tweed fabric.
Buy again? Maybe if I felt I need an injection of new ideas/inspiration, and definitely if I was looking for fun projects to do with my daughter.

Next, Mollie Makes (subtitle - Living & Loving Handmade), issue 24.





Cost: £4.99
Number of pages: 106
Number of projects: not stated, at least 11.
Type of projects: small pretty things - a crochet flower chain, a felted rabbit brooch, cross stitch pictures, folksy embroidered cushion, charming floral bag among others. No garments.
Sewing content: not really for those who love to make clothes, more for the multi-talented who like a bit of crochet, a bit of knitting, a bit of ...
General style: as the title suggests, Mollie Makes is a very pretty publication. If you are a strict design minimalist this is not going to be for you, to put it mildly. There are some initial pages with trend/news, these were clearer and less busy in style than Cloth. I liked the articles about designers, especially the mother-daughter business team who started the Cambridge Satchel Company, and the guide to The Rust Belt Market (unfortunately for me, in America).
Buy again? I must confess I bought this issue because I need a penny purse and there was a little kit on the front cover, so I thought it would be an easy way to make my own. Also this issue has a 'folksy' vibe to the projects which appealed to me. However I would only buy it again if I really loved the content and thought I might make something from it, as I don't think it is really aimed at people who love to sew clothes.

Sew, issue 46.



Cost: £5.99 but usually includes a free garment pattern, so worth it if you like the style and think you might make it up.
Number of pages: 106
Number of projects: the cover says 34 stitched inspirations
Type of projects: a good mixture with enough to satisfy those whose focus is clothes - as well as the dress pattern, there were downloadable mac patterns from the magazine archive, downloadable kimono robe, downloadable vintage style slip, another envelope clutch pattern, cushion covers, a quilt and a good variety of sewing that would be ideal for gifts, including the sweetest toy horse.
Sewing content: Sew is aimed more at the home sewing market, it is less craft-orientated and features latest pattern releases, class dates, advice on fit, sewing machine reviews as well as some craftier stuff.
General style: Glossy cover and pages, much more focus on making items to wear. Less 'cutesy' in tone that Mollie Makes.
Buy again?: Yes, if the pattern on the front and the garments inside appealed to me. I wouldn't at this stage subscribe because on occasion I have noticed the magazine has home issues and I find sewing for the home tedious!

Sew Today, April 2013.



Cost: £4.25
Number of pages: 96
Number of projects: 1 (but read on)
Type of projects: How To Make An Organza Rose Corsage
Sewing content: It's all garment sewing related :)
General style: Sew Today is a glossy magazine published by BKMV (might have just made that up but you know who they are!) as a showcase for their latest patterns. So you could argue it's just advertising, but seeing garments made up and photographed on a page can be more helpful than viewing on a computer monitor. I find small details easier to spot on paper. As well as the photos there is a 'my sewing life' type article, what readers are sewing, fabric showcases, technical advice (this month, overlocker maintenance. Eep - must do that!), technical sewing articles (this month - custom buttonholes and chain trim), fashion stories and news. There isn't tons to read but what is written is clear, well illustrated and crucially the articles are in depth and don't talk down to their audience. Note: 10 issues a year.
Buy again? Yep, am currently subscribed for the reasons above. Also, you get all their patterns half price if you are a subscriber, so if you buy patterns regularly, this is worth the outlay.


Sewing World, April 2013.




Cost: £4.95
Number of pages: 98
Number of projects: 15
Type of projects: a skirt, a robe,  a clutch, a quilt, baby bunting, a shift dress, felt jewellery, to name a few.
Sewing content: Plenty to interest the garment sewer, although not solely aimed at them as the above project list demonstrates. There are news and reviews as well as 'masterclass' type articles (this month, the concealed zip foot). Sewing World is currently running a series on building all the basic blocks. Another long running series was on in-depth alterations which taught me a lot. Sewing World is an old title that used to feature dated projects that looked very home-sewn, but the new editor has brought a fresh look while retaining some of the best of the old mag. Every now and then there seems to be an issue that I want to make everything in - even the non-garments! I must mention the pattern supplement, too - I am not sure how often this is but you can order featured patterns (mostly Simplicity I believe) for £2.95, each with the fifth free.
Buy again? Yes, if the contents appeal.

Total expenditure on sewing magazines in March - £25.17!!!
Note to husband - this was an exceptional month - and it's still cheaper than therapy :))

Do you enjoy sewing magazines, or do you think they are a waste of money? If you are not from the UK, how do our publications compare to yours?

Happy sewing, 'til next time!

Monday, 1 April 2013

April Free Pattern Giveaway!

First up, congratulations to Liza Jane, who is the winner of March's free vintage shift dress patterns! Liza Jane has a very inspiring blog that I have followed for about a year - I especially enjoy her posts on printing fabric and love her bright and inspiring colour combinations. Liza Jane, I know this is a 'slightly busy' time for you but I will be contacting you for your details tonight and will quite understand if there is a delay in replying!

For April, the giveaway will run slightly differently. All the patterns below are up for grabs on a first come first served basis. If you want a pattern or even two, leave a comment with your blog or email details so that I can contact you for your address. I will then send them out immediately to the first claimant. All patterns are complete in factory folds with instructions, multi-size UK sizes as stated, although I am happy to ship anywhere in the world. My hope is to maybe kick start someone's spring/summer sewing!


 ^ Sizes 6 - 16


^ Sizes 6 - 16


^ Sizes 8 - 18


^ Sizes 10 - 22


^ Sizes 10 - 22 - UPDATE - DISPATCHED


^ Sizes 8 - 16 - UPDATE - DISPATCHED


^ Sizes 8 - 16

Apologies for somewhat grainy quality of photos. They were taken on my iPad past my bedtime (I wish I was being ironic there but I really appreciate my sleep right now!) and I am afraid the images reflect that! However, hopefully they should be sufficient to show the general style lines. Any patterns unclaimed by 6pm on Tuesday 30th April 2013 will be donated or sold.

I hope you are enjoying your spring/autumn sewing. Although living here in England I should be sewing for spring, it's still feeling very wintery and I am having trouble envisaging a time when I will need anything less than four layers (on top!) to step outside. I had a busy March both at home and with work, but I have squeezed in some sewing. I will post my latest soon. In the meantime I hope all celebrating or not have had a happy and peaceful Easter.

Happy sewing, 'til next time!