Thursday, September 27, 2012

A golfy polo shirt becomes....

.... a slightly smaller better fitting golfy polo shirt!!!

So, most of you don't know that I play golf.  Not a lot, but a bit, and not extraordinarily well.  Just enough to get me around without embarrassing myself!  One day I will make myself a pinup appropriate golfing outfit like this one:

In fact I have the patterns and the fabric, I just haven't gotten around to doing it...

Anyway!  Until that day I keep getting given shirts like this one when I play in corporate days:

Now what shapely young woman like myself would want to wear something like this?  Not me!

So, in the spirit of adventure, I decided to pull it apart and remake it in a way that would fit my curves.  I started by cutting out the sleeves and down the side seams.  I wanted to leave the shoulder seams and collar etc intact because there was NO WAY I wanted to attempt to put that bit back together.

Then I put it on my headless helper and made some darts:

And while I was at it, I marked where the point of the shoulder was, cause I didn't want a fitted polo shirt with saggy sleeves!

Then I sewed up the new darts, and re-drew the arm holes using the new shoulder point:

Then I sewed the sleeves back in, trying really really hard to match the white piping on the shoulder:

And then I chopped about 3 inches off the length, and made a new hem.  And the new polo shirt looks like this:

Much better!!!

Stay tuned tomorrow to my facebook page, where I will be posting a photo of me wearing my new, now fitted shirt, out on the golf course.  Fingers crossed my team wins!

Now, on a different note, I cut out the pieces for my shirtwaister on the weekend, and all the thinking about the way to lay the stripes got me thinking about the button holes... how was I going to work the stripes with the bound button holes?

The stripes on the bodice and the skirt run vertically, and the stripes on the collar and sleeve cuffs run horizontally.  I didn't really want to do horizontal stripes on the button holes cause one lip will be one colour and one will be another colour, which could look weird.  I thought I might be able to do vertical stripes like the bodice, but have them a different colour to the stripes on the bodice.  But then I thought why not do them diagonally?  So I made a test one:

Looks pretty cool, huh!

So the other thing I noticed when I did this test, was that I'm going to need to line my fabric with something.  This fabric is very light, and therefore a bit sheer.  So it needs something equally as light so it has a similar drape but isn't so sheer.  Thankfully I think I have just enough of a lightweight white cotton sheeting to do the trick!

Looks good with the button anyway!

Wish me luck tomorrow!!!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Putting it into practice

Full Bust Adjustments are my new best friend!  And what better way to celebrate our new friendship than by using the skill to sew a new dress!!

Some time ago I found this gorgeous fabric on the chuck out table of my favourite fabric store for $4 a metre!!!  Bargain!!!:

Its a lovely light cotton, and the stripes are about 1 inch

I just knew when I saw it that it would make a fabulous shirtwaister dress, so on my next trip to Sydney I stopped by my favourite button store All Buttons Great and Small and bought these beauties:

Every time I go to Sydney I make sure I take a swatch of fabric with me,
just in case I have the time to spare to go to this store.

And then I looked through my (growing) pattern collection and found this divine creation:


As an aside - I just love vintage mail order patterns when they come in their original envelopes.  Look at the envelope that this one came in:

I just love the history!  You can see that this lovely pattern was posted to Mrs Gordon P Folkins in Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada, from Toronto, on the 9th of February 1955.  And now its made its way across the world to little ol'me in Australia :)  I wonder what Mrs Folkins would think of that?  I wonder what her first name was?


I traced the bodice front pattern piece onto calico and did a Full Bust Adjustment.  I then pinned it onto my headless helper and re-did the vertical dart.

Yep, you've now seen my underwear...

Then I grabbed some (totally ugly) fabric out of my stash and made up a mock bodice.  I've yet to try it on but it looks pretty good on my headless helper!

I didn't make the sleeve cuffs, I just folded back the sleeves so you get the idea

Yep, I ran out of ugly fabric, but at least this way you can see the cool triangular back yoke!  And I also really like the gathering of the bodice back at the yoke and the waist.

By the look of it I'll be cutting the sleeves down before I sew the cuffs on - I like the length they are like this, so thats a bit over an inch shorter than they would be if I left them as is.

Looks pretty good huh!  And will fit SOOOO much better now that I've done the FBA.

Now to play with the stripy fabric so I can get some cool effects!  I'm thinking vertical stripes on the bodice and the skirt, and then horizontal stripes on the collar and the back yoke.  Not sure which way to go with the belt yet...  diagonal or vertical?

Any suggestions?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pinboards, Sunshine and FBAs

Well it was an odd weekend - plenty of time to sew, but a lack of enthusiasm to get in front of the sewing machine.  Sigh!  Does anyone else have weekends like that?

The weather was BEAUTIFUL and warm, and the last thing I felt like sewing was a housecoat... that may have to go back into the cupboard until the weather starts to cool down again sometime next year...

So I did something I've been threatening to do for a long time - I finally got a pin board and organised my fabric stash!

I set up on the floor of the lounge room in the sun with my fabric stash, a tape measure, post-it notes, texta, scissors and pins.  Then I went about measuring all of my good fabrics - I didn't worry about linings, or plain cottons, or anything I'd previously cut bits out of.  Then I cut a swatch of the fabric, wrote the length and a description on a post-it and pinned it to the board!  And I also wrote down what I intetend on doing with it at some point, so I now also have a plan of what I've got coming up... sort of.

And then serendipitously, my Dad arrived on some other errand, and was able to hang it on the wall for me - good ol'Dad!  What would I do without him.

So I'm hoping that this board will keep me focused and stop me adding to my fabric stash...  What do you think my chances are?

Doing this little project did increase my enthusiasm for sewing, but I had something else I wanted to do first - research Full Bust Adjustments.

'Whaaa' I hear you say.

Did you know that commercial patterns (including vintage ones) are designed specifically for women with B cup boobs???  I didn't either, but it sure explains why when the bust measurement on the pattern is the same as mine, the garment still doesn't seem to fit properly!  So some clever person at some point in time invented a Full Bust Adjustment (or FBA) for those ladies who's 'cup runneth over'.  There is also a Small Bust Adjustment... but I don't need to worry about that one, so I didn't read about it... sorry!

FBAs are covered briefly in Gertie's book, and she does a good job of quickly explaining how to do an adjustment - but I wanted to know more.

Now I'm not going to write a tutorial on this cause there are a lot of really good ones out there, but here is the basic idea:

  1. Make a copy of the front bodice piece on some tracing paper or something.  I like to use calico because it holds its shape really well and doesn't distort when you pull on it AND its fabric so you can sew it and pin it and put it on without worrying about tearing it.
  2. Pin the darts together (or sew it if you like unpicking things) and either hold it up on yourself or put it on your headless helper if you are lucky enough to have one.  Measure the distance between the centre front of the pattern, and the centre front of you (or your headless helper).  Remember this number!
  3. Un-pin the darts (or unpick if you sewed) and draw lines and cut as per Gertie's illustration.
  4. Spread pieces as shown in the illustration making the vertical gap in the centre of the piece the same width as the number you remembered earlier.  I did this bit on another piece of calico, so I then just pinned it down and cut it out again.
  5. Before you unpin your spread pieces you need to redraw the darts  The bust dart on the side will be deeper - but the vertical dart at the waist... from experimenting I found that redrawing the original dart wasn't enough for me, so I pinned it to my headless helper and made my own dart...  I couldn't find much written down about that bit.
So now I have a new skill which I am looking forward to perfecting with my next project!

And another note on headless helpers - the boob size on mine (and the other ones I've seen) all seem to be about a B cup - just like commercial patterns.  And increasing the size of the bust using the dials means you don't get a correct under bust measurement.  Nor does it have any kind of adjustment to create a little pot belly - and I don't have a washboard stomach...  There is a commercially available system to fix all this, and I almost bought one, until they quoted me $70 postage - which is almost as much as the product.  So I came up with my own idea...  I changed the underbust measurement on my helper to the same as mine, then put on of my bras on it and hey presto! it looks a lot more like me!  It will help you if you do the same thing with your headless helper BEFORE you use it to help you make your FBA.

Hmmm - now to look on my board to get inspiration as to what my next project might be!!!  Any suggestions?


Friday, September 14, 2012

Spring motivation and UFOs

And I'm not talking little grey men with big heads, big eyes and small mouths a la X-Files... rather Un-Finished-Objects!

There is something about Spring that makes me want to clean things up and finish things that I've previously had no motivation to finish... like this house coat.

Isn't it a lovely pattern!

I bought this pattern a while ago, and managed to find some floral corduroy to make it from and some lovely soft minkie fabric to line it with, and got ready to start... and thats where things started to go wrong. 

The corduroy was not as good quality as I would have liked, and it was REALLY narrow, so that mean that the coat isn't as long as I wanted.  And then I didn't have quite enough minkie - I was able to cut out everything but the sleeves.  And hot pink being such a popular colour, I have never been able to get any more of it.

So its been all cut out (well as much as I could anyway) and laying on the floor of my sewing room in the corner where I could ignore it for MONTHS.  Until last weekend.

Full of motivation from getting so much pre-washing and tidying done, I decided it was about time I got over my issues and got on with my house coat!

And of course I did bound button holes!  Now that I know how to do them, I'm addicted to their 'look'.

I decided to go with a contrasting pink for the button holes

And as is typical with me, I'm following the pattern, but I'm not following the pattern, all at the same time.  I'm lining the housecoat with the minkie fabric, but not in the same way that you would normally line something, since the minkie is heavier than the corduroy (I'm not buying from ebay again!).  Instead, I'm pretending that the right side of the minkie is the wrong side of the corduroy.  Except for where the front facing is, there it looks like the traditional lining.

Doesn't the pink go well with the corduroy!?!

But the remainder of the seams are sewn so that when you iron them flat, the corduroy shows over the minkie... like this:

Eventually this back seam will look like the top couple of inches on the vertical seam.  I've trimmed the minkie close to the stitching line (it doesn't fray) then I'm folding the seam allowance in half, with the cut bit going under.  Then I'll probably have to hand sew it down.  For the other seams, like the horizontal one shown here, I will make some bias tape out of the scraps or corduroy, and hand sew it around the seams.  I think it looks pretty with the corduroy showing over the minkie!

So anyway, I got a pretty long way through it last weekend considering I was also running around the country side and prewashing fabric!  It looks like this:

I've bought some heart shaped pink buttons for it!

I think when the bow embellishments are on it will look really nice!
I might do the bow in the pink cotton I did the button holes in yet...

And after all the worrying about it being too short, it comes down to my knees!  So this weekend I will attempt to put in the sleeves and the pockets and do all the other little tasks like seam finishing, hemming, stitching on buttons etc.  Fingers crossed I'll have a finished garment to show you next week!

And let me tell you, it feels good to get this thing off my floor!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

Well the warming weather in Australia has started people talking about spring cleaning.  And since its just between you and me, I don't mind confessing that keeping things tidy isn't exactly one of my strong points... especially in my sewing room.  It just seems like I can't manage to clean as I go.  I mean, I chuck out snipped threads and unusable pieces of fabric just fine, but any tasks bigger than that seem to escape me.  Pretty much every usuable surface (besides my sewing table) has a pile on it of stuff that really needs to be put away.  But I just can't manage to be motivated to do it.

It looked like this at the start of the year... what a pig sty!  
Mind you, its never gotten that bad again...

Somehow during last week I managed to find some time and some motivation, and I decided to start by sorting out my fabric stash.  I really should have taken a photo as I was going, but I didn't.  I was too focused.

I pulled out all my fabric - the stuff that was put away, the stuff that was still in shopping bags, and the rest that was sitting around in random piles.  And I sorted it all and put it all away!  I was so proud of myself!!

But I did end up with a washing basket full of fabric that I hadn't pre-washed.  Normally I like to put it in the machine when I get it home from the shops (or the post office if its come from far, far away) but some of it never made it.  During the rest of the week and on the weekend I washed a whole heap, and last night I ironed it all while I watched some TV

I'm sure you can imagine this took forever - I think there is about 40 metres here...

And can you see the fabric on the top?  I managed to find some DIVINE border print Christmas fabric - just over 7 metres of it!!!  It was interesting finding somewhere to hang it to dry, and then ironing it...

Thank goodness its narrow - wouldn't like to do this twice over!

And after all that washing and ironing, there is still more to go!


It was also our local Council elections on the weekend, and I had promised a few hours to a friend to hand out 'how to vote' flyers at a polling booth for her and her party.  Funnily enough, my Mum had handed out 'how to vote' flyers for the same party in 1975, and still had her tshirt.  So I washed it and wore it!

Thats Mum on the left with Rashi the afghan, and me on the right

The party is called the Liberal Party - hence why this tshirt is funny.  I really enjoyed wearing it, and telling everyone its connection in my history.  And by wearing something vintage (even 1970's vintage) I felt that I was still being me while representing my friends political party... and it did get attention!

Anyway, in amongst all that I did manage to get some sewing done believe it or not!  But more on that later in the week...