Sunday, 4 December 2016

My sewing pattern stash

For years I was careful about how many sewing patterns I bought: I didn't want to accumulate yet another stash that I can never fully use.  But then pattern buying also became instant gratification in terms of seeing it and buying it.  Not so much in actually making the garment.

Which is exactly the same problem with my fabric and my yarn stash. Thank goodness I don't have aspiration to start spinning my own yarn!  But I should also mention my stash of quilting fabrics and the three wadding pieces I own. Ah well.

Interesting style, but what would it look like on me?
V1381

I really like this Donna Karan skirt (Vogue 1324) and made it in a firm knit fabric.

Going back to my sewing patterns: I particularly like to buy those that I think may only be around for a time and then get discontinued.  They often have a feature I really like or present a sewing challenge - like Dolman sleeves or eliptical side pieces for a skirt that doesn't have "side" seams as such (V1324). Or the envelope wrap below (V8721) that I made twice, and that then turned out not to suit my shape.

Ah well. You live and learn.

Great style, not so good on me
V8721
But way too many of my patterns are just sitting around and don't get used. Another source of frustration.

I had a good thought today: I want to become more familiar with the sewing patterns I own.

When I look at a pattern I like that I may want to buy, I do compare the line drawing to those patterns I remember. I hope I haven't bought too many that are very similar - it's an easy thing to do because the fabric, colour and pattern on the pattern envelope often makes us think that we are looking at a design we don't yet have. If all patterns showed the same colour and very similar fabrics then I don't think we'd buy duplicates as often as we do.

I think I've done pretty well. I hope. If I do come across a pattern that's pretty much like another one then I can get rid of one of them - which makes me want to identify them.

My purpose for wanting to become more familiar with my pattern stash is different: I want to figure out what kinds of designs I have and how they work with my body shape.

I like wearing this top, but does it suit me?


Some time back I made about seven different versions of an easy kimono style top.  Two of them are tops I actually like to wear, the others not so much. It is just not a style that's flattering on me. So I'm determined not to make any more.

I only made a muslin of this one, and threw it out straight away because it was so awful on me:

V8877: Nope, not a style for me: no bust dart


But what styles do suit me?  I'm not actually that sure.

I think anything with a low but narrow V-neck would be great. Anything that doesn't emphasise the waist. Styles with bust darts are good, those without are a definite no-no (see V8877 above). Boat necks are out, cap sleeves that are too short look awful and I like to lengthen them by at least two inches, then they're great. Trousers and skirts with flat fronts are good. Skirts that flare from the hip are wonderful.

I figured those kinds of things out.

But I do have patterns that don't necessarily fall within the above - or at least I'm not sure if they do. And it is those patterns that I would like to try out: just cut out, make up in any old fabric (I have so many!) and see how the design works for me.

It would make me use up fabric, increase my sewing mojo and allow me to learn more about what suits me.

I am very hopeful that I will sew more with the above in mind.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

State of play - colour range

Here's the 15 most recent WIPs on my Ravelry page (don't worry, I got more! But let's not mention those ones - they ought to be considered in hibernation by length of time not having been worked)


I also like petrol which is missing from these

Interesting to see what the colour range is that I use over and over. (Ignore the orange socks, they're for a friend. I should finish those so I can get them out of the WIP section?)

I was 'accused of' (no actually: it was a bemused comment) of using lots of neutrals, mainly in my sewing: there were lots (and lots, and lots) of black, grey and black and white projects. One in taupe, which is sort of a grey...

But it is difficult to find fabrics in great colours. You know: colour-colours - as opposed to neutrals, muted, or dark fabrics. It's the one reason that I managed to cut down on my spendrift fabric purchasing ways (finally) that built up that overwhelmingly massive stash that I am lumbered with. Sigh!

No point in buying yet more muted, neutral or dark fabrics when I've got plenty of 'em already, fanks very much...

I am finally using fabrics I've had for an embarrassingly long time (neither of them is so great that it was worth keeping either fabric for the 15-20 years that I dragged it around with me) - one is the aforementioend taupe fabric, the other a silver boucle that I've had a vision of straight skirts for.  Knee-length for the taupe and a maxi length for the silver grey acrylic.

I am delighted to report that the taupe skirt is done (I was thinking of appliquing onto the front, but I can live without that. It is a little tight though so not sure how much wear I'll get out of it) and the grey boucle maxi skirt is also done!  And I love wear this one!

These projects follow a black skirt, and a navy blue and grey patterned summer top. And a grey random dot jersey skirt... a silver grey dress... and before that was a black and red skirt. Hey! There was red in there! That's got to count!

So next project: it has to be any kind of garment or other project in a bright colour. To mix things up and get my sewing mojo back.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My holy grail



My holy grail is to develop pattern blocks that I can use as Tried & Trusted garment templates.

One of the reasons why this is taking is long, is that I keep starting over.  I forget where I got to before and I was also not particularly happy with the last result so I am hoping that a do-over might be more successful.  So it’s not been going all that great.

I’ve since discovered that there are several fitting issues that I need to do adjustments for.  I start with a block that I drew to my own measurements in a pattern drafting class.  Great start but not nearly good enough – the fit is by no means close enough. Here’s all the issue I identified so far:

I usually have to move the bust dart down which is no big deal: cut out a box that contains the dart and move up or down so it points towards the bust apex.  Easy.  I have also done full bust adjustments (FBA) with abandon: this makes fit so much better for sizes that are bigger than a B cup.  I can highly recommend it.  You may need to cut a Y Line for very big cup sizes but it’s not a big deal or huge change from the usual FBA.

I am aware that I need to do an underarm adjustment that pinches out a wedge of up to 5-7cm length and possibly 1-1.5cm width – right at the top of the underarm side seam – unless I want lots more ease for arm movement, but it still looks pretty odd if there is too much fabric flapping about under the arm.  So this is a usual one.

I recently realised that I mustn’t suppress the small dart in the back shoulder: I really do need this because of my rounded upper back.  I only noticed that back looks different than I expected when I saw a photo of myself – now this issue is glaringly obvious!  Oh well, at least I know now.

I should also check if my armhole gapes at the back – if so I may need to do more of an adjustment for a rounded back by putting in darts or having a shaped back yoke that suppressed some of that gaping – I’ll need to check.

I have also become aware that two darts towards the bust are better than just the one.  It distributes the excess fabric better and is more flattering.  Best for me are darts that run into the side seam and result in an upward angled line, visually much better than downward or straight across.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t get around some major work on a swayback adjustment.  I know this from my knitting projects but hadn’t been paying lots of attention to it for my sewing.  I applied a couple of SBAs but I think I didn’t pinch out enough.

The one adjustment that I don’t think I need to do is to rotate the sleeve, i.e. changing the shoulder seam either a little forward or backward. I am exceedingly glad about this, because this feels like a major adjustment!
So these are quite a few adjustments so it’s no wonder if my efforts haven’t been all that successful so far – there is lots to do and I don’t think that I applied all of those to one block yet.  I really should.
But I was getting frustrated with my attempts at a template top that fell far short (I just hadn’t followed through on all those fitting insights yet) – then I had a thought:

Why don’t I look at Ready To Wear tops that fit me well and take some measurements?  That way I can compare those to my template top attempts and at least sense check!

Great idea, right?

I was thinking of a smart top with short sleeves that I like wearing a lot.  It is the only one that has a round neckline with a vertical slit down the front – it seems a pretty flattering style, so I am all for using that as a model.

Yeah, right…


It wasn’t until I took a really long hard look at this top, and found that it doesn’t fit at all well!  I just never noticed, good heavens.

This top is made for hips that are far bigger than mine, in fact it balloons out a lot. And the underarm adjustment of that suppressed wedge that I talked about above, that’s so very much needed!  The bust seemed to fit pretty well but the underarm area has lots of fabric that’s just not very attractive.

This top also highlights my problem area:  I am low-busted so there is excess material at the side of the front armhole.  My problem is that I don’t quite know how to get rid of that – do I need a bust dart in that area that grades out to nothing at the seam with the sleeve? That can’t be quite right, can it?

I think I need to play around with taking a bigger wedge out of the top underarm side seam from the front piece only.  This will also affect the sleeve – I may just have to slash the sleeve pattern and overlap by this much at the armhole seam.

Pattern drawing challenges!

I love really.  They are just a lot of work and I need to be in the right frame of mind.