Friday, December 30, 2011

Craig's shirt

The penultimate shirt, for now...  (and I am definitely thinking of something different to make for my boys next year!)
This particular shirt, another Burda 7767, was made using shot cotton in True Cobalt, and is a Christmas present for my husband.  I had just made for him a special (imo) new shirt for his birthday recently, but I ran up this other new one as well since I didn't want him to feel left out when the others were all opening their gifts of handmade clothing on Christmas morning.  However.  This is the sixth mens shirt I've made in the past six weeks, and you might imagine I was becoming just a tad shirted-out by the time I came around to this one...?  (if so, you imagined correctly) It was a struggle for me to get enthusiastic about finishing this last one to the standards (ahem) I've set myself and that my menfolk have become accustomed to...  :)
In fact it only had the very last little touches put to it just last night  :D
The warp of this fabric is a deep periwinkle and the weft is only a barely lighter blue, leading to an extremely subtle "shot" effect unfortunately.  Almost too indistinct...  in fact to be blunt I was quite disappointed with this fabric when it arrived.  I'm used to the Rowan shot cottons really wowing me with their iridescence, but the colour of this one seemed pretty flat to me when I received it.  The perils of internet shopping.
So, the fabric being very plain, the shirt really needed some interesting bits and bobs to lift it above the overly mundane.  Even though Craig does like his shirts plain-ish I still thought it needed a little bit of something...
There are added arrowhead shoulder tabs and cute little miniature arrowhead sleeve tabs.  
It also has weirdly funky diagonal pockets.  Hmmm.  They seemed like a good idea at the time.  I don't think he ever uses them much, anyway.

So! mentioned above; this is my 6th shirt in as many weeks... but I have only posted five! Has all this crazy shirt-making made me see a double shirt somewhere, where there is but one?   Well, no.  I can still count....  so here's the story; I had practically finished another shirt originally intended for one of the boys' Christmas presents before I decided the fabric was just not right for any of them and put it aside, uncertain what to do with it.  And then inspiration struck and now that shirt is in the process of being adapted into something, just a little bit different, and for me... results to appear here sometime soon.
Watch this space...
Later dudes!!  (signing off feeling pretty lighthearted since I have finally finished with The Shirts)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tim's shirt

I made a shirt for Tim; again Burda 7767 (blush).  And I'm embarrassed to confess that there are still a couple more versions of this in the wings too... sorry!  I hope lots of mens' shirts will not get too repetitive... in my own defence they are all just a leettle bit different from each other in some way.  I hope that is noticeable.
But back to this particular one...
I've noticed that Tim, and lots of young men now, are all wearing their shirts a lot more shrunken in appearance to the classic "men's shirt" silhouette.  More fitted to the body, and with shorter and smaller sleeves.  So I tailored this shirt accordingly; and in case you're wondering, Sam didn't want for his shirt to be "trendy" like this although I actually did make his a little more narrow in the body than previously too.  
I made the sleeves shortish and when he opened his present asked him if he would like them hemmed fashionably even shorter but he said he liked them this length.
I went with snaps for closure, and left off any tabs - there is a good reason for this; below.  The arrowhead pockets and their square-cut flaps are cut with the grain and are matched against the shirt background but with no attempt at fancy bias stuff; again, a perfectly good reason for this is coming right up.
The reason for leaving off my "regular" young mens shirt details? well, to use a technical term... this fabric was a blinkin-nightmare to work with, and almost killed my enthusiasm for men's shirts entirely.  I seem to make a habit of choosing very sewing-unfriendly fabrics (like herefor Tim's shirts but he always professes love for them and wears them a tonne, so in the long run I'm just happy that he is happy!
The problem with the fabric? crinkly and stretchy.  A totally hideous combination for tailoring.  You'd think I'd have learned by now, right?  I always tell myself it will be easier; this time, and then it never is.  My best attempts at making two identical shoulder tabs were so dissimilar I just couldn't put them on the shirt, and just the pockets and pocket flaps were enormously difficult... getting that irregular stretchy check to match up.  I know, sounds ludicrous to say that the humble pocket flap almost defeated me, but there it is.  I even made up a set of pocket flaps and tabs in a different fabric, but decided in the end they just looked wrong.  Honestly Sam's shirt was a walk in the park compared to this one.  I fair dinkum revelled in that non-stretchy fabric!
But this fabric was the stuff I just knew Tim would love in his new shirt, I could just picture him in it, and knew that it would sew up into the kind of cool shirt that he would probably pluck out himself if he spied it in a trendy, young mens' boutique.  So I just had to go carefully and get there in the end, through sheer determination. 
Needless to say there is no flat-felled seaming on this thing.  Raw edges all overlocked, and simply top-stitched down just like that.  And applying the hammer to the shirt when putting in those snaps felt goooood...
And you know what? Got those darn checks to match up, eventually!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cassie's dress

I made a dress for Cassie.
Soooo, in clothing my boys I have played about as much as I dared, adding fun little details and extra bits and bobs here and there to their handmade garments, perfecting the tailoring...  but the fact remains that  the most glorious and drool-worthy fabrics, the ones I get really excited about when I enter the fabric store, are usually best suited to girls.  It is so much harder to find really exhilarating fabrics for boys.  A daughter is such fun to dress up, and I have dressed Cassie up her entire life.  And I am still indulging in lovely fabrics and designs just for her as often as I can!
This fabric always called to both of us whenever we entered Fabulous Fabrics.  If it looks anywhere near half-divine in these pictures then let me assure you it is ten times more divine in the flesh.  So to speak.  (In the "fabric"??)  It is a fluid silk printed with an other-wordly underwater design of strange and disharmonious hues; impressionist seahorses suggested in blotches of emerald, lime and crimson, floating in a deep khaki tracery of seaweed, itself stark against a watermarked sea of unlikely cloudy pink, mauve and royal purple.
Quite beautiful, no?
To make the most of the print, I started out with a real oldie pattern that I have had for a few years, originally a gift from my friend P from her mother's stash.  Vogue 7610 is a very simple shift dress with straight side seams (the reason I chose it) and adapted it as follows; 
(Warning: dressmaking details following, boring to anyone not interested in dressmaking)
The design had wide front shoulders gathered into the back shoulders; I redrafted these to be the same width so as to eliminate the gathering.  I decided that gathering would detract from the print and only the plainest of designs would allow it to shine as much as possible...
I laid the front and back down together, overlapping at the right side seam, and cut out the dress as one whole piece, eliminating the right side seam.  Again, to preserve the print intact as much as I could...
Instead of four separate little neckline and armhole facing pieces (unnecessarily narrow and awkward little things if I ever saw them), I cut a whole bodice facing, again all in one (pictured above) and eliminating the right side seam. I left the natural fabric selvedge in place to act as the finish to the lower edge of the bodice facing.
There was just enough fabric to make a kind of narrow obi belt with long skinny ties, but she can substitute one of her long skinny leather ones that wrap around several times about her waist if she wants to dress it down.
I left off the pocket.  I had not enough fabric.  I was left with literally tiny scraps totalling up to about 15cm square when I had finished.  Fabric efficient, or what?!
After a spot of secretive measuring of her existing dresses, plus a few surreptitious try-ons on myself, I determined that the left side seam could also be sewn up and no zip would be necessary for closure.  So simple!  So basically this is a two piece dress, with no closure.  The facings were under-stitched (in pale pink) as much as possible, the raw edges overlocked to finish, and the lower hem hand slip-stitched in emerald green.  I agonised somewhat over the thread colour here, but I think the stitches are happily near-invisible, yes?  Along with the horizontal placement of the pattern piece onto the print, achieving the perfect hem depth was the next most agonising detail; it is deep enough to make the dress short enough for her tastes, but not so deep as to cut into and unbalance the overall print placement on the dress.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sam's shirt

I made a shirt for Sam...
Hmmm, sounds extremely deja vu-y given that this is what I nearly always make for them, for seemingly every occasion requiring gift-giving.   But you see, all my boys are sweet enough to appear genuinely pleased to receive my shirts as gifts, and what is more, actually request them.
To have my shirts in demand is such a nice ego-stoking state of affairs, ahem.  Plus I do so much enjoy the tailoring process.  Yes, really... 
So how could I not comply with their wishes??
Using Burda 7767 (shock!) with modifications, and he came with me to Fabulous Fabrics himself (genuine shock!) and chose the checked fabric and the wooden buttons to go with it.  This fabric is a polycotton, non-stretchy but with a permanent crinkle in it.
Fair warning; excessive chit-chat about pattern matching coming up...
Below; the back yoke... when one is working with checked fabric like this, it is imperative to a rabid obsessive like me that that slight concave curve of the upper back edge be spaced evenly across as well as for the straight lower yoke edge be exactly even across the seam-line, and for the stripe to not disappear very slowly down into one side of the seam, which especially in a crinkly fabric like this can happen almost without you noticing... and require unpicking and re-doing, ahem.   Anyone who has sewed with stripes and checks has visited that one before, I'm sure.
Probably why I have this lazyman's preference for solids when tailoring...
Also, just an aside, when I am using less stable fabrics, such as this crinkly fabric, to make tailored shirts; I cut the two yokes one with the grain and the other cross-grain as pictured below.  I find this gives a bit of extra stability in an area of high strain.
Purely decorative buttons, one on each sleeve hem.
I went to enormous pains to match up the check pattern on the bias-cut arrowhead pockets as it relates to their corresponding bias-cut arrowhead flaps.  They are perfect, if I say so myself.  I'm not even going to mention how much minute twiddling, precision-pressing  and adjusting this took...  oh wait, I just did  :)  LOTS!  Also please note that the two pockets and their flaps are exact mirror images of each other.  Over Christmas Day lunch I started what I thought was a very interesting conversation with some female relatives about this sort of dressmaking minutae...   until I noticed them glazing over fairly early in the piece and stopped.  Incidentally, do other seamsters find that variations in the structure of clothing is a compelling and perfectly good topic for conversation, and that it is inexplicably hard to incite any passion at all in "ordinary" people who take their clothing totally for granted and don't notice nor even care about the All-Important Details?!    sigh, I guess this is why we blog...
So, back to the shirt at hand... oh, and by the way, please note the collar has purr-fectly symmetrical pattern placement.  Thank you.
And tabs, matching mirror images of each other.
Okaaay then, that's it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Introducing Fabio

After our Christmas lucky-dip yesterday I have become the custodian of a funny little fellow
He has been christened Fabio.
After an eventful Christmas day, Fabio is having a quiet one today, as is the rest of his new family.
On the other hand, guess who plucked out the silk scarf that I made?
I promise there was no collusion; it was the last pressie left in the bag and she was the last to "dip"!
I reckon my husband (once again) thought of the best Christmas gift idea.  We each opened something like one of these.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A small silk surprise

I think it is safe to put this here since no one in my family is going to be reading my blog at this late stage in the game...
And if you are a family member reading this, then quickly; avert your eyes!  Now!  :D

There is to be one of those Christmas lucky-dips-with-a-strict-budget at the family gathering this year and I racked my brains to come up with a wearable something, both lovely and of high quality as well as handmade.  My gift had to be for a girl, and had to suit any one of a range of hair and skin colours; from beautifully grey, to a pale ash blond, to rich chocolate-y black, and to a true strawberry blond.  All divine hair colours on their individual heads, and for each of which I would rejoice in choosing just exactly the right colours, if only I knew which fair hand would be the one to pluck out my own little offering...
I spied this absolutely delicious silk chiffon at Fabulous Fabrics, and could buy just enough for a little scarf.  With its shades of warm pale pink, blue-y murky green, bronze and with just a little bit of black I reckon it is perfect.  It spoke to me a sense of dusky, pastel, subtle and yet warm and rich, all at the same time.  What a find!
Simply edged with a rolled hem in black.
And just because this picture below made me smile (seeing Sienna's furry face always does) and just because "finding the dog" is fun...!  can you spot her this time?

Scarf; silk chiffon (and don't worry, it was only worn for just these few pictures before being safely tucked away)
Dress; modified Simplicity 3745, pink lace and pink border lace, details here
Petticoat; Burda 8071, pink satin, details here
Sandals/thongs (new! a present to myself!); Misano from Marie Claire shoes
(impatiently) What?  Not more photos... let's go, already!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Aegean gracefully....

(Forgive the pun; I couldn't resist!  You don't want to be anywhere near me after a few drinkies...  Really)
You see, today is my husband's birthday; and I have made for him a shirt using Burda 7767 (surprise!), of Aegean shot cotton.
At the risk of self-big-noting... ah what the heck.   This is my most well-finished shirt to date, if I say so myself.  I went down the path of extra immaculateness as far as inner appearances go, and flat-felled the armscye seam allowances as well as the side and sleeve seam allowances.  In some fabrics this might be tricky wicky, but in this amazingly lovely fabric (about which I have previously raved) it turned out to be very achievable...  I'm pretty chuffed at how it turned out!
(below left; view of side, armscye and sleeve seams inside the shirt, right; lower hem and both inside and outside view of side seams)
Modifications to the pattern; well, I absolutely love this pattern (obviously, as this is just the latest in a very very long line of my efforts with Burda 7767) but it is super-basic.  Honestly; great pattern, but it is pretty much a blank canvas...  So once again my long-suffering husband is the innocent victim of experimental, and fortunately minor, mucking about; which he will have to wear out and about in the big wide world for everyone to see...  This time I tried out "coat of arms" shaped breast pockets, and shallow, extra wide pocket flaps that extend out well beyond the edges of the pockets.  This feature is echoed in miniature on the sleeve hems, with their own little "coat of arms" shaped tabs tucked under a turned-up sleeve cuff.  Kinda ups the funk-factor in an acceptably low-key way, no?  Well, I think so...  Since the sleeve cuffs obviously run the full distance around the sleeve hem, I toyed briefly with the idea of extending the breast pocket flaps to fill the entire width of the shirt front to fit in ... but decided that might be too weird for my husband to consent to wearing. Sartorially speaking he is a pretty conventional bloke, actually; he likes stuff to be ... plain.  I think I shall have to work him up gently to wackier stuff like that.
I sewed decorative buttonholes onto the collar points; now one of my favourite standard features to add to a man's shirt, and curved the lower hem.  The last is a given, now.
The colour of the fabric is a result of an ultramarine warp with a bright turquoise weft, giving it that iridescent oceanic glow.  Kelly green for the thread and the buttons just seemed to "go".

Shirt; Burda 7767 with modifications; of Aegean shot cotton

below; the Superman pose
Now our Aegean Superhero is being taken out to a slap-up birthday dinner by his wife and kiddies.  Cheers all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It isn't easy being green...

... at Christmas time.  Oh tosh.  Of course it can be VERY easy!!
Something I feel guilty about every year is the massive pile of wrapping paper that gets tossed out on Christmas Day.  We go through our wrapping paper on the day, salvaging bigger unripped pieces to recycle as much as we can, but the "keep" pile gets smaller each year and after you've cut off the mangled bits the pieces get smaller too.  And the next year there're always one or two bigger pressies that need LARGE amounts of wrapping paper and one always ends up buying a few more rolls just to keep yourself topped up in wrapping paper and just because you don't want to run out...
and I feel guilty about buying new paper all over again.
well not this year!
I decided to go really green, and use newspaper this year.  Remember my eco-friendly gift bags?  Yes, I am still making up those to use in all my other gift-giving too.  Actually I really do like the muted and monochromatic look of newsprint; the rustic look of it appeals to me more than bright glossy sparkly paper.
The little tags were made using a piece of lightweight cardboard found rolled inside a poster, and the little gingerbread man stamp I've had for years, from back when I was really into card-making and made all my own cards.  Actually, I still do make most of my own cards... which doesn't take up very much time since my designs lean towards the very simple in style, which is my style..  A time-consideration thing there as well as my personal taste.
Just to make it all a bit more personalised; I select parts of the newspaper that suit that person.  So, Tim is into cars in a big way, and Cassie is fashion-conscious.  Sam loves the comics and the puzzles, and then for my man who loves to dream of travel... the luscious scenery in the travel section.
So, no guilt come clean-up time.  And let's face it, it is the gift inside that really counts, right?!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the rocks...

... in my on-going part-time quest to get great pictures with my dog; can you see her?  She is there in the picture... just.
Camouflaged well in amongst the rocks...
Blue and green together is such a great summer time colour combination.  They look so fresh and clean together.
In sewing news; I am squeezing an insane amount of sewing in amongst glasses of champagne, canapes, and strawberries and small pieces of chocolate fudge cake impaled on skewers so you can dip them into a chocolate fountain...  and btw, YUM  (it's a tough life but somebody has to do it)  But all my current projects are top secret coal-and-dagger stuff; mwahaha.  To be revealed at a later date....

Top; from Pattern Magic 3 by Tomoko Nakamichi, green cotton jersey, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723, white linen, details here and my review of this pattern here
Cardigan; Metalicus

ps. she is the slightly more orange "rock" at the top left.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blue bunches top; 6 different ways

I thought this little top, from p58 of "Pattern Magic 3" by Tomoko Nakamichi (seen first here), might be a versatile little thing from the very first, since I tried wearing it both frontwards and backwards and it looked equally OK both ways...  And then I started playing around with it and found that it could literally be worn in six different ways, and I don't just mean jamming it randomly into six different outfits!  although I did put together six different outfits too....  just because it is fun, y'know  :)

At left; the top worn in its intended form as it appears in the pattern book, that is with the round neck and ties (or "bunches" as I think of them) at the front, and the V-neck at the back...... And at right I am wearing it back-to-front and with the V-neck at the front and the ties hanging down at the back.  Oh, I know the details are covered up some in this picture but well I had to throw in just one slightly winter-y option into the mix!   And really I'm just trying to show how the top is all-seasonal, layering with light cardis during the cooler months too... (if you want to see this "way" fully and without a scarf and cardi over the top it is shown better here)
Also, the bits that form the "bunches" can be taken out and folded down against the body, and then the top can be tucked into a high-waisted garment.  This way it just looks like an ordinary little plain tank top.  I dunno if it is just me but I do think the round-neck at the front (at left) is a tad more dressy while the V-neck looks more casual.
Lastly, those "bunch bits" can be left loose and free, and the top takes on even more different and interesting shapes.   Again, I think the V-neck and the longer length at the front (on the right) is somehow a more casual look.
Interesting, huh?  Who would have thought that one little top could work in so many ways?
Oh, what am I wearing today?  I am wearing the fifth outfit; "all out" and with the round neck and shorter length at the front (just above, and on the left)  I reckon it looks pretty funky like this too...
Which "way" do you like the best?