Saturday, 25 October 2014

Finally finished

Yep, H's shirt is finally done. As I mentioned in the blog hop post, just about everything that could go wrong with this did go wrong. I have sewn just about everything twice (at least).

So first, the finished product...

I probably could have ironed it before I photographed it. But it is linen so this is probably how it will usually look anyway.

Like last time, I used the free pattern Lekala 6207. Last time I narrowed the shoulders and it fit better, but H requested an exact copy of a RTW linen shirt and so this time I left it as per the pattern. I also drafted a new collar based on the RTW  - as is, it is quite large.

So what went wrong? Well, the first thing to go wrong was the thread. Yes, the thread. I happened to have a matching thread already but it must have been at least 20 years old. And it kept snapping. Said thread is now in the bin. I wish I had read this excellent post  by La Sewista before starting on the shirt and I wouldn't have had this problem. Also after reading that post I decided to try her do-not-backstitch idea (you just dial down the stitch length instead) and I must say I am impressed. Actually the whole NLS (Next Level Sewing) series are worth a read.

So the problem with the thread snapping was that it is on the topstitching of the pocket. So I had to unpick that and being quite loose weave linen it really didn't like the extra attention. It stretched a bit. Which is why my previously pefectly matched stripes ended up a teensy bit off.

So close but yet...

So the next thing to go wrong was the side seams. I flat felled them but somehow when pressing before the final row of stitching, I pressed in a crease of excess fabric. On both sides. And didn't notice. No, I don't know how either.

Then came the abomination that was the first collar and stand. I, as always, used this excellent tutorial by foursquarewalls which constructs and attaches the collar in a different (and more logical) order. The problems with the collar were entirely of my own making. When I was doing the collar I hurt my lower back. Bending down to put something in my handbag which was on the couch would you believe. I mean seriously, I have no idea how or why just bending over hurt it - but it did. So sitting in any one position for any length of time was uncomfortable. But I had determined that I would have the shirt finished for H's birthday so I kept sewing for too long. And all the sewing I did was rubbish. But somehow my pain addled brain thought it was ok at the time. When the pain cleared the unpicking began. So moral of the story - if you can't sew, don't.

As I said previously both the collar and stand looked ok as long as you didn't look at both sides at once as both were very asymetrical. Because I had enough fabric I just chucked the collar and stand in the bin and recut both. Let me tell you, attaching a collar stand on an already trimmed and clipped neckline is not easy.

But it was worth it.

I also had to redo the topstitching on the front placket because the first attempt was far from straight and even.

Fortunately I did the yoke properly the first time. I cut it on the crossgrain so that the stripes ran horizontally. And I changed the one centre pleat to two smaller ones nearer the shoulders because H prefers them that way.

A full back view.

I should point out that H did suggest several times that I just leave this and sew something else but I feared that if I left it, it would be a UFO forever. I am now very glad that I persevered.

So I recommend the Lekala pattern if you fancy making a shirt for the man in your life. Although if it's your first man's shirt you may find the instructions somewhat lacking. But with the many excellent tutorials available around the internet you shouldn't have too much trouble. And I do really recommend the collar tutorial, you really should give it a try.

Next time I'm going to use one of the many collar point tutorials and see if I can improve them. What about you? Do you have any favourite men's shirt tutorials, tips or suggestions?

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Reluctant Barbs

Actually the Barbs aren't reluctant. I'm just reluctant to publish this post. Once again the photos have thrown me. 

See I love these Barbs. They feel fabulous. Hands down the most comfortable jeans (yes, I'm calling them jeans) I have owned in years. Which admittedly isn't actually saying much. I'm really short waisted with a muffin top even in loose clothes so the waistbands always scrunch up and the button digs in.

But first, Barbs aren't jeans, are they? This is how I justify calling them jeans.
1. They are made of denim - albeit cheap not quite black stretch denim. (They were always meant to be a wearable muslin).
2. They have jeans pockets

I just copied a pocket of an old RTW pair. But note to self - interface stretch denim for pockets.

H also says they look good and fit my bum better than others. Then I look at these photos and think - really? Look at all those wrinkles. (And don't look at all the loose threads from my very dodgy first ever machine rolled hem)

Maybe the wrinkles are because of my awkward midstep, pigeon toed stance...

Nope, apparently not. Maybe if I just stand awkwardly with a stupid look on my face?

Yeah, well that helps but of course this is the front and there are still wrinkles.

These are a size 16 and they are actually too big and so I was going to make the 14 now that I have it too. Of course, they'll still need a flat bum adjustment.

Except they won't... because this just arrived at my place.

I was pathetically pleased when I saw that Style Arc had released these. I have never instantly clicked on the buy button before, but I didn't even hesitate. These were bought within minutes of the email arriving to announce the pattern release.

I'd also like to point out that I am so glad to have finally posted this. It's been cathartic and I'll never have to look at the pics again. I must remember that next time I'm procrastinating for this reason.

So, are you planning on making Flo? Or maybe you have already?

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Blog hop

The blog hop baton has been passed to me from the lovely Lara of Thornberry. Lara is a prolific stitcher who makes fabulous clothes for herself and her gorgeous daughters. One (of the many) things I appreciate about Lara's blog is that she experiments with shape, colour and fabric and shares all the results - even if they aren't always quite what she was hoping for. 

1. Why do you write?

I started sewing again about a year ago after nearly 30 years of not sewing. I didn't even realise that there were sewing blogs and I don't remember how I found them but boy I'm glad I did. I am continually inspired by sewing bloggers. I love to see how patterns have been interpreted and how fabric choice completely alters the finished garment. I also really appreciate being able to see finished garments on a wide variety of people; different ages, shapes, sizes and styles.

This last point is especially important to me. And quite difficult to explain well.

I live in Thailand and so don't usually see women who resemble me in any way. (Yes, there are lots of foreign tourists in Chiang Mai but they are on holiday and I also don't live in Chiang Mai.) The few other foreign women I know, or just see around, are generally significantly younger than I am. I am surrounded by women who are just so much smaller than I am in every respect.

Also clothes that fit me are very thin on the ground so I can't try on RTW to see how a particular style looks. And most of my existing RTW was bought when I was working in the Middle East and so was both professional and conservative. My life now is neither of those things.

Sewing blogs allow me to see how garments look on someone who looks more like me. So a big thank you to all the nearly 50, not quite shaped as they used to be, bloggers out there.

And I still haven't mentioned why I write. Basically, it just seems that since I gain so much from the blogs of others that I too should contribute in some small way. I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss the best way to construct a collar or the joy of french seams or to just celebrate the completion of a garment. I don't know others who sew because home sewers are basically non-existent here. Tailors are plentiful and affordable and so many people have professional or formal wear tailored for them. (And I can't tell you how tempting that is when you're grappling to fit pants for example.)

And of course without sewing blogs I would not have had the pleasure of meeting and fabric shopping with both Lara and Seamstress Erin and made two new IRL friends as well.

By the way, this is an open invitation to anyone visiting Chiang Mai to get in touch. I'd love to go fabric shopping with you.

2. What are you working on?

That my friends is a shirt for H. Well it will be... eventually. Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. The mess you see above is actually a completely unpicked collar and stand. The collar actually looked fine as long as you only looked at one side at a time. It was completely asymetrical. And that was both the collar and stand. I'm not sure exactly how that happened but I do know the main culprit was me. I'll fill you in on the trials and tribulations when it is actually finished.

3. How does you blog differ from others of the same genre?

As many people have already said - I'm not sure that it does. Although I am still relatively new to it and still finding 'my voice'. I am finding it hard to make the switch from my professional, managerial and/or academic writing style into something more personal. But I am working on it.

I could give you a long list of what my blog doesn't have or do compared to others but then you already know that, don't you? And yet you still read it... you are kind.

4. What is your writing process?

Ha! What is this process of which you speak?

For someone who is generally very organised, I am surprisingly haphazard about blogging. I blame the necessity of taking photographs. I do not like having my photo taken and never have. Because of this, makes often don't get posted immediately. I am constantly writing blog posts in my mind; while I'm sewing, cycling, ironing, but by the time I get around to actually writing, the thoughtful/interesting/important/useful/amusing points often do not make it into the written version.

I also seem to either sew or blog and not the two together. So I often sew several garments and then when I eventually have photos I will write several posts. I also (strangely) get hung up on blogging makes in the order in which they are made, or in some other order according to my own mental list. Seriously, sometimes I think "I'll write a post about y" but then I think "No, I haven't posted about x yet. I have to do that first." And I have no idea why and now that I actually contemplate this properly - it is just plain stupid. So I will be working on that too.

But enough fairly random rambling from me. I would like to pass the baton onto bobbinsbikesandblades and onedabbles, both of whom take the time to comment on what can be some fairly mundane posts. Thank you both for that.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Black Thai Affair

I ended up with this Thai mudmee cotton quite unintentionally. I had bought it for the shop but on closer examination discovered that it had a couple of faults so I had to use it myself. What a shame, eh?

M6702 in Thai mudmee

In the photo above you can quite clearly see the faded patches, which I unthinkingly placed pretty much exactly at my bust.

But back to the beginning. This is McCalls 6702 View C, minus the pocket but with View D length.
I am actually surprised by just how much I like it. Of course this is after basically reducing it down one size while making it. On top of the usual lots of ease there is actually more ease than stated as the finished garment measurements are wrong. Oh, and it is definitely tunic length (like nearly low thigh as opposed to mid-thigh) and I'm 172 cms or about 5'7".

It is remarkably comfortable and I think a lot of that may be down to the two piece sleeve.

As you can see, I used a solid black lightweight linen for the yoke and front of the sleeve. Purely because I didn't have enough of the mudmee. It also matches better than it looks here - we all know what it's like to photograph black, don't we?

You can also see a few stray threads. This cotton, while beautiful in most respects, frays if you so much as look at it. And yes, there are threads poking out of my otherwise lovely french seams, which I did everywhere, even on the armholes.

The placket is also solid black lightweight linen, although the less said about it the better. The collar shape is just off and the topstitching isn't too flash either. Most of these problems were caused by my far-too-stiff interfacing. But it was the only one I had in black so I used it anyway.

That placket is also seriously long. I handstitched it closed to make it decent. On the next versions, of which I think there may be a couple, I would probably just add buttons and perhaps even buttonholes. Although since they wouldn't need to be functioning, I may be too lazy for that.

I also think I will move the shoulders forward. As it stands the yoke finishes at the shoulder seam - as you'd expect. But that also means that the gathers sprout directly from the shoulders. I think they'd be better moved down some. And I'll probably make them tucks not gathers. I'm not really a gather type of gal.

I also can't stop thinking about a shirt dress version. I reckon it would make a great shirt dress. I have looked at so many shirt dress patterns and there's something 'wrong' with all of them. Either they have a waist seam (no thanks) or lots of pockets (safari style) or a retro vibe (not my thing). Plus of course I already have this pattern and would only have to add a little length - an easy adjustment. What do you think?

You may also have noticed from the photographs that I have a new sewing friend. I was passing a shop in Chiang Mai and saw a 'plus size' dressform. Miraculously, she shares my bust and waist measurements although her hips are bigger than mine. This seemed so serendipitous that I just had to bring her home. I think she's going to be a tremendous help.

So what do you think of this as a shirt dress? Good idea? Bad idea? I'm also open to 'perfect' shirt dress pattern suggestions.

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