Toiling over the toile…and a sewing disaster!

WELL. The size 18 toile bodice came together and was too big AND too wide in the shoulders. I expected it, but the struggle was that I then had to DO something about it. The something involved tracing and cutting more pattern pieces in sizes 16 and 14, taking a lot of measurements, doing a lot of visualisation with my giant bodice, my Dani-quin, and the new pattern pieces, and hauling out my two sewing guides and pouring over the pattern alteration sections:

More pattern traces…

Front of too big bodice on the Dani-quin

Back of too big bodice (cute though!)

My saviors

The end decision was to go back down to a 14 because thats the only measurement that fits my narrow shoulders, AND make the following alterations:

  • adjust shoulders further to account for slope (I may not have my Mum’s problem of getting shirts to fit her wide shoulders, but I DO have slope-y shoulders that can’t retain a handbag strap to save my life…ironically thanks to the male contribution to my genes)
  • Full bust adjustment (first ever)
  • Adding a bust dart (this is brave of me, but I think it will work).

Altered size 14 bodice pattern piece

No that isn’t some weird double dart creation on the waist. One of those darts is valid, the other to be ignored 🙂

I cut the bow straps from the original toile to use on the second one to save time and am all set to try again. Time is ticking but I am trying to take my time and not stress out.

While we wait for more progress, lets drool at the shoes and clutch I aquired for a total of $50 to go with the dress on the night:

So cute! And a bargain 😀 The shoes were only $15 !!!

In other news I had a nice big disaster on Saturday night. About 2 months ago I bought some brand new Mundial Serra Sharp scissors. They are the kind of scissors that you can make last a lifetime. Not in my case though. They slipped right off my table and onto the cold, unforgiving tiles. I just sat there and cried lol. SO unproductive. I think I was even more frustrated because I was cutting interfacing at the time. My cheaper, lighter Triumph scissors are actually better for that particular job. It was a frustrating night with me breaking my new bottle of conditioner half an hour later and going to bed cranky and with frizzy hair because I refused to touch my GHD straightener for fear of dropping it too :/

Anyway all is well today, my lovely Mum must have described my subsequent Facebook outburst to my step dad, because the next day as I measured his caravan windows for curtains he insisted on giving me money to buy a new pair. I again used a Spotlight voucher so picked up some lovely new scissors and a cute remnant, all for $35 🙂 Thanks Trev, best dad in the world 😀

The pretties

The parentals

Well, that’s all I have time to post tonight….Wordpress has been playing silly with me and this one has taken ages to post. I have other things to share though so I may post again tomorrow, hooray!

Happy sewing 🙂


Don’t panic yet

The last week or so I have lost my sewjo (love that term, used often by the ladies of The Sewing Library), and as such there is no actually sewing to blog about 😦 I’ve told myself “Don’t panic yet!” and I guess I am not too worried, just frustrated.

A big part of my lack of motivation has been the headaches and neck and shoulder pain I have been experiencing the last few days. It’s actually not an injury or a problem just tension from my new 2-3 day per week indoor climbing routine. My body is adjusting, and I also have been slack and not done any yoga to release the muscular tension. As a result this last weekend I have slept terribly each night and woken with a headache each day. Waking with a headache is one of the worst feelings, is it not? But if I can push through this and get fitter it will all be worth it 🙂

Anyway, so as a result of all that no sewing was done this week or this weekend at all, unless you include sewing 5 buttons to a top. I don’t include it as I bought the top this weekend so the sewing did not dent my list of ‘sewing to do’ at all. I did get to enjoy a trip to Spotlight during which I bought the pattern Vogue 1102 for the dress I am planning to make, as well as some calico to make a toile.

In the spirit of list making, as I do find that clears my head, here are the projects I need to motivate myself to move forward with:

  • Mending & refashioning (the least inspiring, but will dent my list considerably)
  • Finish ipod cover project for little sis
  • Little pouches to practice zippers
  • Make ‘writer’s bag’ satchel for me
  • Make pyjamas for me
  • Make toile for pretty dress for me

My real list is much bigger but if I can focus on these things I think I can move forward a bit more practically!

Despite the setbacks, I was cheered up considerably by Raid My Wardrobe yesterday. Any ladies in Newcastle or Sydney, Australia need to check this website out. It is a great event where you will find several dozen stalls of only women’s preloved fashion at fabulous prices. Best of all is that much of it is high end, designer wear! In the past I have picked up:

  • Guess heels $40
  • Cue dress $35
  • Top Shop cherry red wool winter coat $22
  • Converse sneakers $10

And endless tops, dresses, skirts, handbags and shoes for $5-15 max (its only the designer brands that go higher.

This time around the event was absolutely crazy as the rain closed down several outdoor markets and drove everyone to RMW, but I still managed to score 2 skirts, a top, a dress/top, a necklace/bracelet set, a brooch, and the cutest, comfiest heels ever all for $30!

How cute is the necklace I bought!

The next event is in October in Newcastle and there will be a Sydney one announced soon. Exciting!

My first garment!

As discussed in the last post, I knuckled down over the Easter weekend and tried my hand at a dress. I am quite proud of my efforts even though I will probably never wear it. Let’s explore why.

The pattern:

Lisette by Simpicity #2209

I chose Lisette from Simplicity #2209. In the main picture she is wearing a shirt/coat over the dress. It is the equivalent of the smaller blue dress in the image. I used a black twill fabric with the intent of creating a dress for me to wear to work…office attire if you will. I liked the fabric because it was cheap, I bought 3 metres of it, and it was good for if I stuffed up…plenty there and easy to disguise mistakes.

This is the completed dress. Doesn’t look to bad on the face of it hey?

The finished dress

There are several problems however, and we can break it down in to two main ones:

  • The dress is at least one size too big, probably two.
  • The dress is too short

The second problem is pretty basic…I hemmed it in a hurry and shouldn’t have. I knew if it was the full length the pattern asked it would look frumpy when coupled with the fact that it swims on me, but I went too far when hemming it up.  Not the end of the world but something to learn for the future. In fact I have made a conscious decision that when I finally reach the hem on a dress I am making and I am so close to finishing I am to wait overnight before hemming, or at least a few hours if this occurs early in the day. No rushing when tired!

The first problem was more complex and has alot to do with the gradual learning that I am in for when it comes to fitting myself, reading patterns, and getting a general feel for the measurements I need to work with.

Sitting down with my Lisette pattern was both easy and daunting at the same time. I found I was pretty quickly able to see what was required, what all the symbols meant etc. The daunting part is sizing. This was a multi-size pattern, sizes 14-20. The first part was deciding whether to cut the pattern or trace it onto tissue paper to conserve the different sizes. After umming and ahhing for ages I decided that I didn’t want to waste time, I wanted to get into it. I decided to write off my two Lisette patterns as experience, especially since I had gotten them on special, and just dive in and cut them. Once I made that decision I then had to figure out my size.

Now firstly, I had this vague recollection from my school days of making a garment to a size 14, knowing that I was a size 14 in clothes off the shelf, only to find the completed garment too small. I also often hear that patterns do come up small, so with this all in mind I was sure to carefully measure myself  everywhere and be honest with what came up.

In the end, my measurements were saying a size 18-20. I couldn’t tell you what my instincts were saying on this. I was so keen to just make a dress, get my hands dirty, and learn as I went, that I was ignoring instinct and just putting my trust in the pattern guide even though I knew it would probably fail me. I am glad I did this as the result is a satisfying learning experience 🙂

So finally, armed with measurements and a keenness to get going I cut the pattern to a size 18.

Pattern cut!

As you can see in the pic I pulled out my Reader’s Digest Sewing Guide to have a look at cutting guides. This gave me a good intro to selvage and I am pretty sure I cut the fabric correctly, so yay me!

Fabric cut!

The part I enjoyed the most (as with most people I think) was the putting together. But not only did I enjoy it, but I think I managed it with no real dramas, tackling several techniques and recquirements that I had never attempted before 🙂

My zipper, whilst not perfect, looks pretty damn good for my first ever thanks to the great instructions from Reader’s Digest:

The zipper (bad shot, I know)

I am really pleased with the darts in my bodice:

Cross over darts in bodice

And I also liked the way my neck reinforcing turned out, though it wasn’t something I could really show in a photo.

Now, to the problem, its way too big!

So big!

Loose fabric bunching

Huge armholes (side boob risk anyone?)

This thing really swims on me! It’s definitely the case that I was probably a size 14 in this pattern, possibly needing to make slight alterations to a 16 around the tummy area. Unfortunately I am really not all that confident in doing so yet, so that is what I have to work on: sorting out a fit with each garment I make that works. My shape is rather awkward which doesn’t help. I have a bit of a tummy, and a very deep spinal arch which further pushes my tummy forward and my bum back. I am up to a D cup in chest, but have a relatively slender upper back. I have very rounded shoulders when standing naturally. Its not going to be easy to learn how to best fit these features but challenge accepted!

All in all, despite fitting issues, I am not disappointed with this dress, as I learned so much and put it together very successfully, just to the wrong size. Making me feel even better, I tackled my other Lisette pattern dress this weekend just gone, and will hopefully blog about it in the next few days when I get around to the hem…it has come up very nicely, and fits! 😀

Oh and finally, I also made some coasters…how cute! 😀

Cute coaster for my new mug 🙂

Kindle cover

This is one of those projects where a few things went drastically wrong and I may well not get much use out of it…but hey its all in the learning!

I decided I wanted to make a Kindle cover. Me and the boy both have a Kindle and he likes to borrow my lighted case instead of buying his own. I figured I would make myself a case for when he does this. Truth told though, I love my lighted case so it probably doesn’t matter that my back up case isn’t awesome.

The tutorial I ended up using is this one:

It’s a great tute and a great case but these were my problems:

  • I used cord material. I bought this really cute babushka material a few weeks ago and decided to use it for this. Its corded and adorable. I also had in my stash a pink cord, used previously on a reversible handbag. Cord is stretchier and thicker than cotton (duh) and it was a little difficult to work with for this. It also frays a bit so pink fluff kept getting all over the lovely cream of the babushka material and that just drove me nuts.
  • The babushkas are one direction only. I actually didn’t necessarily stuff this up. To the unknowing eye, however, they look upside down, but the closure flap is actually mean to be at the ‘bottom’ otherwise the kindle is upside down in the case.
  • I tried to cover the elastic…even though I wasn’t fussed on elastic for the closure to begin with. Comments on the tute revealed a few people had covered the elastic used in the design (it holds the whole thing together). I liked that idea because black or white elastic would not match my fabric. I tried it and failed. I got the elastic covering right but stitched the elastic in place too tight causing ugly pulling of the case itself (cord is stretchy remember). I also just didn’t like the way it worked with the case. It felt like I was man-handling my Kindle just to get the cover on and get it in place.
  • Velcro was not the perfect alternative. I got annoyed, pulled it all apart, removed the elastic, and stitched in some velcro instead. This solution is better than the elastic but it still has its flaws. Because the case has stiff cardboard in it to open the velcro requires a jarring rip, as opposed to a gentle tear. And my velcro stitching was not really hard wearing this time round (woops), so not two minutes ago I noticed that the velcro is now coming OFF *sigh*. As this blog goes live I will be taking the cover downstairs to remove the velcro and have one last go at getting a decent closure. I am thinking cord elastic and button is the simplest solution (with the least unpicking). Wish me luck!
Anyways, here are the pictures. Despite all the problems I really do love the fabric 🙂
I removed all the velcro and installed a button and ribbon. I just was not to be satisfied until this was in a state that I would actually use it. I’m now very happy 😀

Battling through

This weekend was interesting! I knocked together a ‘quick’ gift (quick meaning under half a day lol), and continued on something I started over a week ago: a hanging caddy mat for under the machine which will hold tools and notions and have a removable thread bin. I got the pattern off Etsy and its going to look lovely if you can look past the messy parts and the cotton clumping that I will know lives inside the lining, even if noone can tell *sigh*. The fabric is beautiful but these are my problems:

  • Bias binding. I hear awful things about it on blogs, web pages and FB groups all the time but had never tried it. It is truly horrible, especially if thin and folding over two layers of fabric AND a layer of batting. If I never have to use it again I will be a happy woman. I dont think I will be that lucky.
  • Sewing machine needle breakage. I can handle this, things break. What I can’t handle is the broken tip flying up and hitting under my eye, missing my eyeball by about 3mm. Had to just replace the needle and keep right on sewing…if I walked away to think about it I may have never touched the machine again lol
  • Thread clumping on the underside on thicker fabric. I have sewn through some pretty thick stuff. It clumps under there occasionally but not much and I can usually figure out why. Yesterday, however, I just could not win!  I also did not have the patience to Google or figure it out properly so it will get resolved at a later time I think. I got results that were close enough in the end.
  • Creating a lined bag of any sort. I can’t stand having to create a cylindrical bag with a square OR circular base. Some gathering or bunching of fabric is to be expected and is part of the ‘look’ but I always feel like I am winging it instead of doing it precisely and there is always an obvious point of overkill: a distinct “gathered” look in one spot. Arrrggghhhh!

I think that’s about the extent of my complaints lol. It was a rough weekend but I still love it. Some parts are definitely getting easier.

Another fellow beginner sewist summed it up nicely this weekend:

“When things are going well, sewing makes me feel peaceful and calm. When I’m feeling challenged, well, I don’t feel quite as peaceful, but I still feel calm, like everything’s going to be okay if I just be patient.  Sewing is good for me, I think.”

You can view her blog here:  🙂

Anyways, that’s about it for this post. Hopefully I will have some more project posts up soon…a few things I have done lately have been gifts so I do not want to post them until they have been given 🙂

Byes! 🙂

Finding time…

So it’s Monday morning and I am at work *yawn*

An early dilemma I am discovering here is finding time to do all the things I have to, and all the things I want to, in each week. First, a disclaimer, I do not have children. I do not pretend that I have it harder than someone with children. But oh my god is there alot going on at the moment!

A breakdown of my week at the moment:

Monday – work 8.30 – 5.00, home for an hour, burlesque class, home again, later dinner, maybe some dishes etc, bed.

Tuesday – work 8.30 – 5.00, home for ‘sewing nite’, which may be interrupted by urgent housework, trying to put bins out in rain, and taking a breather.

Wednesday – work 8.30 – 5.00, home to spend time with my man as he is back for the nite, but this is soon the be replaced by SES training night…which will mean a late night.

Thursday – work 8.30 – 5.00, straight to early burlesque class, then home, sometimes grocery shopping on the way but that is slowly slipping to a Friday night or weekend task.

Friday – work 8.30 – 5.00

Friday night through to Sunday night, as for most people, is a blend of social activity, catching up with family, spending time with my man as he is currently away through most of the week, and attempting to do some sewing, get some exercise, rest etc.

This weekend was painful. There was so much I wanted to do and I lost half a day to a hangover because I rarely drink and drank too much on Friday night. All I wanted was to sew and get some exercise, but whilst attempting either of these I sensed I needed to spend more time with my man and just wanted to stop for a bit. And it makes me feel all the more annoyed that I was losing weight, but this week put it on!


Anyways, this week I am determined to do better. Healthy eating again, no more chocolate and definitely no alcohol, more exercise, waking earlier, and making the most use of my time. Hopefully the rain stays away so I can get out and use my new bike 🙂

On a nice note, I am slowly putting together something I really want, a nice notebook cover with internal pockets for in my handbag, and I did manage to get a fair chunk of it done last nite! 😀 Tonight I am hoping to brave lining up and installing the clasp. Will post pics as soon as its done 🙂