June 30, 2011

Withstanding the test of time

Do you think sewing and craft books age badly?
I tend to think a lot of the techniques stay the same, even though new, and maybe more 'convenient' stuff may be added over time.

So, when I found these 1970's craft books (part of a 'Time Life' series, if that means anything to anyone) at a local thrift store at 1.50 euro a piece, I decided to take them home with me.

They include the usual techniques for sewing and fitting.

They also feature simple projects, some of which I would still make and wear today.

Of course, the styling pictures are terribly dated.

But I have never found a better tutorial for making leather gloves,

Or a boxy handbag.

And there is a surprising amount of knitting patterns, many of which might still look good.

All in all, I think this was a very good find and I'm sure I will use these in the near future. I'll make sure to credit them when I do.
As ever, more later.

June 27, 2011

It's finished!

And here is the little jumpsuit!

First of all: I like the look (please ignore my less-than-happy facial expressions in the pictures. It's a very hot day, I'm using a self-timer and I had very little time to take these pictures). There may be more jumpsuits and shorts in my immediate future... (especially since the hot summer weather seems to have started today) The colour is also something I hadn't tried before and I really like.

There are some minor flaws: I would have liked to make wider front facings but I had to make do with a very limited amount of fabric, as a result this is the lowest I cut put the top button if I wanted to avoid showing the edges of the facing. I might have put it a little lower otherwise.
I'm also wondering whether I should have added a little more lengthwise ease. I can sit down without hurting myself, but only just. I think I will ask M about this, she's a jumpsuit-making expert.

As I mentioned before, this is a jumpsuit without waist seam. Those seam lines some of you commented on in the sketch are armhole princess seams which end in pockets. The back has simple darts.
I started out with longer legs but decided they looked best hemmed this short (making this the shortest thing I've worn in years, or at least my shortest pair of trousers of the past decade).
The first look, with the belt, is the one I was going for. As I put it on however, I realised the second look, un-belted and un-buttoned at the top worked as well. In fact, I think that would also look quite cool with full-length legs...

And, if I feel like using this thing for layering when the weather cools down again, I also like the look with a jacket.

June 26, 2011

Jumpsuit madness

Remember the post I did about considering jumpsuits? And the sketches of those as part of my summer sewing plans?
Well, last week, I decided to give it a go. I drafted a pattern for a cropped jumpsuit, sort of like a 50's playsuit. At first, I wanted to make the wrap-over version of my early summer sketches, but I kept thinking about something with a front closure. And I only had one meter of fabric.
I made some quick sketches and decided to go with this one:

It has no waist seam and I think I'll mostly wear it with a belt. I'm making it from simple cotton which closely matches the colour of my hair. It started out as an experiment for both jumpsuits and shorts, but I've tried it on as soon as I could during construction and I think I'm going to like it. If I do, more jumpsuits may follow...
I hope I can get this one finished tonight so I can show it to you tomorrow.

P.S. My boyfriend has returned home and those shorts I made fit him very well :)

June 20, 2011

For the man in my life

Do you sew for the men in your life? I do. I make shirts for my boyfriend. All the shirts he ever wears, in fact. I've made a few shirts for my younger brother as well, and a bag for my father.

My boyfriend used to be, and my brother is until this day, the sort of guy who always dresses in black jeans, a band t-shirt and army-surplus boots. And yes, they have long hair and beards as well.
My brother lives in deny of summer heat, never seperated from his black jeans, but my boyfriend appreciates lighter and even shorted trousers when weather gets hot. I've made him a some bermuda shorts last year, a pair in camouflage print and one in olive green. Based on a block I drafted for him, of course.
After each pair, I've tweaked the fit and the design based on my observation and his comments. Now, I have bought 7 meters of black twill and I plan to use it for trousers for both of us. Before I tried cutting out a pair of full length trousers (risking a significant amount of fabric) for him, I decided to test the fit once more by making him another pair of shorts.

These are knee length, with a jeans-style rise, curved front pockets and welt pockets with flaps at the back. I know they look a bit wonky on the hanger and black is a great fabric choice for hiding details, but let me assure you: they are symmetrical and I'm not lying about those pockets.
E is away from home this week, and the weather has been less than summer-y but I really hope these will fit great and he'll enjoy them when he gets back.

June 18, 2011

Sew so tiny

My boss's baby boy was born last week, so I thought be nice to make a gift. The amount of baby-boy-appropriate fabrics is my stash is rather limited, and I wanted it to be both nice and practical.

I made this (hopefully) baby-sized hooded sweater (I put my fabric scissors in the picture as a size reference).

The dimensions for the sweater itself came from the book 'Babydol' (the title is an untranslatable joke in Dutch, refering both to 'babydoll' the garment and 'fun for babies') by Pieke Stuvel (a Dutch writer and illustrator of DIY fashion books, one of which appeared in English translation)
The hood was my own addition. I drafted it using instructions from my normal pattern drafting textbook but I had to guess at the basic dimensions of a baby's head. At first, I thought it would be too big, now I worry a little if it isn't too small for the rest of the sweater.
Anyway, I hope little L will enjoy it.

June 16, 2011

To answer a question

In her comment to my latest post, Barbara asked if I could explain how I did the swayback adjustment on those trousers. And well, that's not such a difficult question to answer...

Before I start, however, I need to come up with a little disclaimer: I have often complained about how the 'swayback adjustment' is the most over-exposed pattern alteration in the sewing blogosphere. In most cases, this was about bloggers adjusting dresses or coats on which they might have done well to check the pattern's waist length. And yet, I've gone and used this term myself.
So, to avoid any confusion, I'll explain what I think my alteration on trousers is: a flat-butt-adjustment. I like high-waisted trousers, which made this adjustment needed. With a lower rise, the only 'issue' you would have, would be that the back waistband would sit a bit higher on your body than the front. Which, with a lower rise is not such a bad thing...

To show you what I did and why I did it, I will have to show you some close-ups of my behind...

This is it in my new trousers.

And this in my side-buttoned ones.

The light wasn't great and the focus is a bit off, so I'll add a side view to display the problem: There's a horizontal fold just below the waistband. Even when I'm not wearing heels.

I started to be aware of this fitting issue a while ago, so I was determined to fix is for my next pair of trousers. To alter it, I simply pinned the excess fabric on the side-buttoned trousers (for this, you would have to make a muslin if you're dealing with a new-to-you commercial pattern), took them off, measured what I had pinned and substracted that amount from the top of my trouser sloper.
In my case, the excess was at center back and tapered to nothing at the side seam. If you have a similar problem, you can use this type of flat-butt-adjustment. If the excess also exists at the side seam and/or at the front, you are dealing with a pattern in which the waist-to-hip distance (vertically) is larger than yours, and you should take out some of the overall height.

And finally, to answer a question nobody asked: both these pairs of trousers have straight waistbands. In my personal experience, straight waistbands work well on high-waisted trousers, when placed from the natural waist upwards. That's what you see here. I would never use a straight waistband on trousers with a lower rise. The vast majority of women, myself included, has curves in the waist-to-hip-area. And curves are not served well with a straight piece of fabric.

June 13, 2011

Summer trousers

It seems like such a long time ago that I made something for myself which wasn't a knit top... I needed more summer weight trousers for work. I've never worn beige or sand colours before but I had picked up this fabric, a thin twill-weave cotton, on sale at 1 euro a meter a while ago. So, I decided to give it a go.
I've always liked flared and/or wide trousers and with a thine fabric, those are definately the way to go. I also wanted a high waistline so I could tuck in the wider tops I've made recently.

I made these using my trouser sloper (for the first time with a slight swayback adjustment, correcting a flaw which started to annoy me more and more in my existing high waisted trousers) but there is a rather similar looking pattern in Burdastyle magazine 10 2010 (avaible online as well). Mine are just perfectly proportioned for me, and have double welt pockets with flaps at the back.
I'm a bit worried the fabric may wrinkle easily, but these trousers are extremely comfortable so I should be able to wear them a lot.
I've noticed I keep planning all sorts of tops which I can make to wear with this colour and shape and I think I will need a big straw hat as well...

June 6, 2011

Possibly too simple...

To justify its own blog post. However, it'll have to do for now. Work these past weeks has been very hectic, and six days a week. On top of that, this last week I've had a return visit from that nasty cold I had earlier. Or one of its relatives.
All which adds up to the sad fact that not a lot of bloggable sewing has been happening. I've been sewing but all of it has been work-related.
Until Sunday evening, when I whipped up this t-shirt from the same thin, striped knit which I used for the twist t-shirt. I wanted this one to be a bit more fitted so it can be worn over trousers. I think the end result is not very exciting but it make for comfortable work-wear. Which may just have to be a priority right now...