Sunday, 22 February 2015

Deep-Seated Issues: Ultimate Trousers (Work in Progress)

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone's had a good weekend? I had a great time hitting the fabric shops of Goldhawk Road for the first time with a couple of friends. We were there all afternoon and still didn't manage to check out every shop! I think we only did 2/3 of what's on offer at best! We all had a pretty good haul, and had a lovely break in a really old-fashioned diner, Zippy's, which was charming (and amazingly cheap).  I hope it won't be my last trip though- the owner of Classic Textiles was telling me that all the shops were due to close in the Autumn to make way for regeneration. So definitely worth another trip or two before this gem is lost for good...

 Here's what I got- (clockwise from centre bottom) some Liberty needlecord for a Megan dress (the '70s blue floral), some polka dots for either a midi skater skirt or a pair of trousers, some wax print chickens for a shirt for my bloke, some wine-coloured ponte for one of my vintage pattern pledge dresses, a kind of 'Sleeping Beauty'-esque Liberty tana lawn for an Anna,  and some cotton lawn elephants for a pair of pyjamas! Almost all of these are planned projects so I was pretty sensible, only giving in to whim with the extra Anna fabric. 

So here's my work in progress- my first muslin for a full-length pair of Ultimate Trousers. These are a size 12 with an extra inch added to the rear seam to make room for my rotund rump. This worked pretty well- the waistband is pretty much level- but you can see there are still some issues to be addressed in the next muslin. 

I had a week break making in between starting these and putting in the zip to test the fit. Although they're such a quick make to construct, I had a quick try-on just holding the sides together and could see it was going to be a bit of a strain getting them over my pot belly. 

Fitting trousers is hard not only because it's technically complex, but it's hard to confront your own body quirks and work around them. It's just not enjoyable having to work out how something's going to go nicely over your weird lumps and bulges! I basically need all the FBAs- full bust adjustment, full bottom adjustment and full belly adjustment.  

After my week's 'insulted vanity' break I decided to just let out the centre front seam a little to make room for my tum. As you can see although I can put the trousers on there's still a lot of work to do- and I think letting out this centre seam (rather than the sides) was a mistake because it's also given a bit more unnecessary width for the crotch. 

 If anyone can see what other adjustments I need to make any hints will be gratefully received! I've been piecing together info from my Gertie Sews Vintage Casual book, which has a decent section on 'Pants Fitting' and the Colette online tutorials for their Clover trousers. 

What I *think* I need to do is the following, but only making another muslin will tell:
- Add a smidgen more length to the front crotch seam
- Add more width to the side seams over the hips
- Add a little more width to the top of the inner thigh
- Swayback adjustment to take a little width out of the waistband at the centre back
- To make them look a little more like the cover art on the packaging maybe taper the legs in a little more below the knee?
- These will be a bit shorter once hemmed, although I think they're supposed to be anke-swingers. I might draft in a little extra length to have the full coverage option though. 

 My one consolation with these trousers is that I've finally managed to insert a reasonable invisible zip! This isn't great as it was done pretty carelessly as it's just a muslin, but it's the best I've done so far and it's all down to actually using an invisible zip foot rather than a standard zip foot. I wish I'd got this foot ages ago, it would have saved me so many headaches. In fact I've taken out a couple of zips from previous dresses to re-insert the invisible zip now that I have this magical gadget. 

 So, I'm on my way with my fitting 'resewlution'! I've still got a way to go but I'm glad I've started. I think getting over myself has been the biggest challenge so far- hopefully with a few more tweaks I'll have a great-fitting and flattering pair of trousers. And you know what? Even this pair beats anything in my RTW wardrobe for fit. 

Talking about fitting I'm also planning on a couple of new Anna dresses. I love the style so much and I know the bodice needs a little work for me. I emailed the team at By Hand London with a few (horribly taken) selfies and they have suggested a few things for me to try. I can't wait to get it nailed so I can get creating with that lovely Sleeping Beauty lawn! 

Have a good week everyone, and wish me luck on the rest of my fitting mission!

NorseOtter xxx

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Delphine, with a Metallic Sheen

Always with the attitude.

Hello folks,

It's still blinkin' nippy in old London town so I'm afraid photos are indoors today, in my sewing corner. That's my Bernina in its travel case, and the chest behind is chock-full of all my supplies. The upper drawers are full of patterns, the lower drawers are full of fabric, and in the middle there's a bit more fabric and tins full of buttons and other notions and trimmings. I'm vowing to keep working through the stash to make sure my craft corner doesn't get out of control!

Here's my finished Delphine skirt! I'm actually wearing an almost-completely homemade outfit. The jumper my ma made for me a couple of years ago (she's Smallkinknit on Ravelry by the way), and the shoes I made last year in the I CAN make shoes ballet pumps course (you might be able to spot some shoe lasts on the cupboard behind, but I haven't yet gathered all the other supplies needed to make another pair).

I made up the Delphine in a size 4 but as I'm slightly in-between sizes I sewed with a narrower seam allowance to have a bit more room. It's come out a pretty decent fit when standing up, but I find when I sit down the waistband slides up and you might get a bit more thigh on view than you bargained for....I get this with a lot of my skirts though so I think it's a consequence of having a rotund rump! I got quite chilly exposing my poor old legs like this when cycling to work the other day, and hope I didn't flash anyone too much.

There is quite a lot of turn-up in this skirt- 4cm then 4cm again (I'm 5 foot 5 for reference) so I'm not super-pleased with the hem- it's a bit bulky and I don't like the fact that the line of stitching sinks in, I'd prefer if it was almost invisible, but a colleague who's also into sewing (my Secret Santa fabric gifter) mentioned that more spongy fabrics are liable to show up stitching like that. We'll see if it still bothers me after more wear- I suppose I could always redo the hem by hand with some catchstitching for a less visible result (correct me if I'm wrong though- I don't really know for sure!).

I'm not in love with this make, but I can see it getting a lot of wear as although it has the metallic sheen it's pretty neutral, and I do really like the shape of it. I've made it my mission this year to 'graduate' from the 'Love at First Stitch' book and just wanted to get the Delphine done so used up some stash fabric that I thought would be suitable (and appropriate for the cold weather). The fabric was originally bought as lining for envelope clutch bags I made for Christmas gifts a couple of years ago and comes from good old Simply Fabrics in Brixton. Now that I have a feel for it I'll be keeping an eye out for better fabrics for the next version (as it's too cute not to make again in a way that's more 'me').

I also decided to line the skirt to make it warmer, following Tilly's tutorial. It's come out pretty well, although the hem's not super neat because I hemmed the lining before the main skirt, then realised on trying on that the lining was peeking out so just turned it up once more the width of the foot for a quick fix. I also can't quite get the hang of finishing it off neatly at the bottom of the zip and managed to mangle a hole in the lining trying to force too many layers of the fabric under the needle- it's pretty difficult to sew close to the end of the zip tape neatly! However I patched this up and it isn't too noticeable, I just hope that the strain of wear in that area doesn't cause it to open up again.

Finally let's talk zips. I have been perpetually disappointed with how my invisible zips just aren't invisible. Then I finally realised it's because I don't have an invisible zip foot, and never have! For some reason I thought I did with the old Toyota I was using. So although wise people have informed me it's perfectly possible to insert an invisible zip with a regular zip foot, my experience has proven otherwise, at least at my skill level so far. So as a late birthday present to myself I've just bought an invisible zip foot that I hope will fit my old-style Bernina. Fingers crossed this will solve all my zip-related issues, as actually that's always the stage in construction that gives me pause and allow a project to sit unattended for a few days til I muster the energy to try and get it right.

Anyway, either through a lack of technical skill or the right tools for the job- this invisible zip is a big dark sunken line over aforementioned rotund rump! You can't see the zip really, so maybe it's just down to the turn of the spongy fabric, but I kind of wish in retrospect that the zip placement was at the side where this would be less unsightly! The zip I used was also longer than what was called for (a 12" rather than a 9") so this is exacerbating the effect.

Oh well! There's a lesson here about using the tools and materials that are suitable for the project, rather than just grabbing what's to hand and thinking 'that'll do'! Another resolution for 2015 will be to build up a better collection of notions and make sure I have everything that's needed in advance. I've actually been a massive geek and made a googledoc of all the projects I plan to make this year, based on my 'resewlutions' blog post. I'm making sure I list all the required lengths of fabric and notions there so next time I go shopping I can give structure to any whims by calling it up on my phone and making sure I stock up on necessities for upcoming projects. It's not very visually appealing (it is just a spreadsheet after all) but it can be ordered by columns like 'Is it stashable?' and 'level of difficulty' as well as 'season' so I have the flexibility to rearrange the order of my makes depending on how ambitious I feel, whether it's the right time of year, and whether or not I want to go shopping! And who doesn't love the satisfaction of ticking something off a to-do list?

Next up- more challenges for my shapely booty. I'm taking on the Ultimate Trousers again to try and get the fit right. I had been planning on doing this next anyway as I wear trousers a lot and really want to get them in my repertoire so I can handle the Ginger Jeans, but I won't deny that I was spurred on even more when I saw the Great British Sewing Bee contestants tackling a similar pair as their first challenge. Sew Over It are actually doing a special Bee-related discount on their Ultimate Trousers course if anyone else wants to give it a go with a bit of expert help!

I'm going it alone and not doing the course because I want to make mine NOW, and I already have the pattern and have given it an ill-fated go. Wish me luck! I feel that as this will be tricky and requiring of patience it may be a wee while til I produce anything that I can post. Watch this space!

How are your 2015 sewing plans going so far?

NorseOtter xxx