A distraction from my lack of tangible sewing progress.

Today’s post will be a delightful distraction away from me not having anything currently worthwhile talking about when it comes to sewing.

Lisa, from Notes from a Mad Housewife nominated me for the blog hop that’s currently making its way around the online sewing space – I’m not actually sure where it started exactly but I’m in excellent company – Heather from Handmade by Heather, Leila from Three Dresses Project and soon – Morgan from Crab and Bee. They’re all ladies who have wonderful writing styles and whose sewing I really enjoy admiring!

what am I working on?

Recently I’ve been losing a lot of battles in the land of The Trouser, but I’m gearing up to win the war. In between pondering that, I’ve been working on my hybrid jacket, which is coming along really nicely!

poppykettle on instagram

I’m also just about to start basting together my mum’s jacket, as she’s popping down to Melbourne for my birthday next week so I want to squeeze in a fitting session :)

Otherwise, I’m trying really really hard not to start a fourth project. The only reason I haven’t is because I feel a little bit sewing-output-constipated right now. A lot in the pipeline… and well yeah – you get the analogy. So many things I want to sew!

why do I write?

Because I have to. Otherwise this blog wouldn’t be a blog, but a Tumblr, right? :)

I decided to start a blog when I was at the end of a my first year of sewing lessons, when I knew I wouldn’t be continuing on with that but wanted to maintain a connection to other people that sew. I had only just discovered the online world – Julia from Julia Bobbin had just started a blog and from hearing her talk about it and being inspired by her Tessuti Competition win, I decided maybe it would be something I would try, too. It took me a while to get used to the whole ‘writing’ thing!

Fast Forward a little and the fabulous Rachel from Boo Dog & Me organised a Melbourne meetup. I remember being pretty nervous rocking up to Tessuti where everyone was meeting, and I’m sure I did a lot of incoherent babbling (it’s a nervous thing) and Rachel didn’t even bat an eyelid (so polite!).

meetup

Since then I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful sewing enthusiasts overseas, had a few incredibly supportive and beautiful emails from people who read my ramblings, received unexpected fabric/pattern/care packages in the mail and made some wonderful friendships, as well as come into contact with people who I don’t necessarily get to spend much time with, but adore none the less. It’s kinda corny, but I feel that by writing I’m somehow giving a little something back in turn for all that I’ve received. That, and I love hearing from those of you who take the time to comment :) Commenting can be hard work, I know!

how does it differ from others of it’s genre?

my blog you mean? Um, I don’t know. And quite frankly, I don’t really care. This little space has given me so much more that I had ever anticipated – wonderful real life friends and the love of seeing what other people create, so I’m not really interested in getting all competitive about it all. I direct that energy into being the best I can be at doing this, and learning new sewing-related things. Everyone contributes towards the sewing blogosphere in their own way, and I think that’s what makes it so wonderful.

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And of course spending time with other sewing enthusiasts!! Myers Briggs classifies me as an introvert, but I’ve not yet been to a sewing meetup or social sewing day when I haven’t come away completely buzzed and on a high because there are just so many bloody fabulous people out there who sew. (Is that what it’s like to be an extrovert all the time? That must be exhausting!). So I’m super, super duper looking forward to the next Frocktails – which is this coming Saturday! I’m predicting that sequinned dresses are going to be all the rage…

how does my writing process work?

You know, back when I got a job with my current employer, it was all the rage to do psychometric testing. I had to do three tests – Maths, Problem Solving and Language. My result announced I sat in the 91st, 93rd and 23rd percentiles respectively. Of course, being an engineering/construction company, they hired me instantly. Ha! I recall having a little giggle with myself that I had at least managed to pick a profession that suited my abilities. No seriously, my geek high school friends and I used this integral expression as a joke that really, we no longer needed English classes:

Integral Expression of Life

Lame-osity aside, my blog writing process reminds me of writing a lab report – I stay focused on the technical process and outcomes. It’s also a really good challenge for me – writing a coherent post that flows. These days I usually start writing a post when I start making a garment – that way I can capture those ‘aha’ moments that I would otherwise forget about by the time I came to writing a post. It also means I remember to get decent WIP pictures, and that my post changes constantly up until the point I take photos, after which I proof read and then hit publish.

nominate!

I for one would love to know a little bit more about many people, but the two sewing bloggers I’m going to nominate here are Karen, from Fifty Dresses, and Leith from Sew Brunswick. Both sew and blog things that I really enjoy reading about! It’s a matter of writing about your writing process, by answering the questions I’ve got bolded in this post. Of course, this is totally non-obligatory thing :)

And I’ll be back soon with some real sewing stuff, promise!

The Trouser.

Say that with the accent and delivery style of May – one of the judges from the Great British Sewing Bee – ok?

So at the beginning of July my working situation changed a little bit (this is a good thing!). Even though it’s immaterial to this little sewing space, that change was enough to get me (re)thinking about the clothes I drag out of my closet on weekdays. Ever heard the expression ‘dress for the position you want, not the position you’re in’? Yep. So I’m turning my sewing sights on trying to perk up my work wardrobe a little.

I’m almost recovered from my last pants sewing effort to attempt them again – as my legs and arms must be covered in the work place regardless (it’s a construction/operations site safety thing). I’ve always preferred skirts in the office, but it’s a general rule that no matter how fabulous your skirt, it will always look terrible with steel cap boots.

On the 9th of June, I ordered these – the Jacques Pantalons, from Republique du Chiffon:

I received them on the 1st of July – which seemed synchronous, that being the first day I started my new role. I even had a little impromptu postage race with Puu’s Door of Time who also bought this pattern… although even with a 1 day handicap start, I lost by 4 days. Not bad really, when you live in a city Jerry Seinfeld once described as the ‘anus of the world’. Personally I think that honour should belong to Hobart, but hey.

This pattern has been made up by three lovely and leggy French ladies – Jolies Bobines, Les Trucs de Tatihou, and my personal favourite pair by Cosy Little World. So how would they look on a definitely-not-leggy, non-French lady that tends a little closer to stocky than lanky?

This is them in their muslined glory, unaltered in any way. It was my second muslin. (You’ll have to pardon the blurry-ness):

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Capri pants and I were never meant to be friends in the length department. Ignoring of course that I’ve pinned them up unevenly… these pants are too small. The pleat detail is completely lost, I can’t get the two front seams to meet, and the side pockets are straining open due to the lack of ease.

The ease issue starts pretty much at the crotch, and gets exponentially worse the closer to the waistband seam you get.

You can see I’ve drawn the grainline of each of the four leg pieces – I can’t confirm if this is actually the case, but I would think that a properly fitted pair of pants would see the grainline perpendicular to the floor all the way along. I’ve ordered a few books on pants fitting as I really feel the need to beef my knowledge up in this area.

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I like this photo because it makes it seem like I actually have a bum.

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Aaaand I finally got the focus right, fourth time lucky.

Firstly – lets talk size. My Waist and Hips exactly matched the measurements for the size 42 – so that’s what I cut. You can see in the pictures above I can’t actually get the front seams to meet to do them up.

I double checked the instructions to see if I did the right thing – it says quite clearly (albiet in French) to measure yourself nekkid and then compare it to the table. Which is what I did. So I double checked my measurements, nekkid. Nope, still the same. Lastly, I double checked to see if the pattern pieces I traced off were the correct size. They were.

Pretty simply, that’s a big f*** up, Republic du Chiffon.

 

 

Once I had the chance to blow off that little bit of steam, I returned to thinking logically and reasonably. There is one explanation for why this didn’t work out for me – the rate of change between my hip and waist measurement is vastly different to that used by RdC’s design fit. A diagram shows it best:

Me (left) vs RdC (right)

Me (left) vs RdC (right)

I know I’m long in the body – both above and below the waist. I also know that one of the main reason’s I sew is to have clothes that actually fit me. Once again I’m reminded of the fact that patterns are just a starting point along the way – I can’t expect them to fit me out of the packet any more than I would expect a RTW piece of clothing to fit me off the rack. Knowing all of this doesn’t stop me from throwing a tanty when it doesn’t go right, but.

So let’s talk about my second Jacques-related tanty. Let me make it clear to those not in the know, that this pattern DOES NOT have seam allowances. I found this out about 5 seconds after I finished cutting my first (and now discarded) muslin out.

” Les marges de couture ne sont pas incluses sur le patron”.

I didn’t even need to type that into Google translate before that sinking feeling set in… Entirely my fault though.

Other disappointments? The back dart is very definitely not in the centre of the welt pocket location. I’m usually one to like a bit of imperfecion though, so I’ll leave it be.

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I tried out a new thing with welt pockets though – the faux piping at the bottom – and I’m liking it a lot!

So now… do I bother trying to make them fit, or dump them and try something else?

F3348 & V7975: Slow Sewing

The first half of this year gave me an incredible amount of time to ponder my sewing style, and as a result of having a bit of distance from the actual act of sewing anything ‘normal’, I’m finally beginning to feel like I have a bit of direction to curate my ‘to-sew’ list. Simply put, I’m happy to buy basics and to put my sewing skills (and limited sewing time) to use creating beautiful, structural and really well made items that fit in with my basics.

It’ll be quite a long while until you see another dress on this blog – and I want to get back to sewing what I love most – jackets. I’m excited about it because there’s still so much I want to ‘get right’ in this area of sewing skills, mostly around setting in sleeves and getting them to look really professional. It’s the main area I really notice as being sub-standard on all the (non-French!) jackets, coats and blazers I’ve made to date.

So, I’ve started out on two jacket projects which I’ll be working on either exclusively or in the background when I’m enticed away to sew something else.

The first, a gift for my Mum – as she’s having quite a significant birthday event in early May next year. It will be a French Jacket, in a boucle I got from B&Js. It’s a lightweight fabric because Brisbanites don’t get nearly as many chances to wear jackets as we do further South! It will be tough to work with, as it’s already fraying like a Beast…

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It will also mean interstate trips for fitting – the first of which is already done to adjust the muslin and so she could select the lining from a bunch of samples I took up with me.

Mum is virtually identical in body shape to me (although I guess it’s technically me that’s identical to her) so her adjustments were minimal as the Vogue 7975 pattern fits her nearly as well as it did to me.

I’ve already cut out and begun the basting process… fun times ahead :)

The second Jacket project is for me, and the intent is for it to be a hybrid between French and Tailored. I’ll be sewing with Marfy 3348, which was one of the free patterns that came with the 2014 catalogue (you can also buy it online – they have pdf now, whoohoo!):

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The collar and front facing will be tailored – pad stitched and horsehair canvas – while the rest of the jacket will be quilted. Although I’ve yet to test out the quilting for this fabric combination so that may change based on how well it turns out. This project was inspired by Leisa’s tailored/French hybrid with Marfy 3182, which you can read about here.

My fabric is one of those special fabrics that you hoard until the ‘right’ moment, although this is probably less of a ‘right’ moment and more of a ‘can’t wait any longer’ moment. I’m not a patient person.

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It’s a cream and mint boucle, from one of my favourite shops – Stitches to Style.

The current plan is to underline the parts of the jacket that will be quilted with some lamsbwool (from A Fashionable Stitch) so as to keep the balance between the weight of the front which will be backed with horsehair canvas. The lambswool is deliciously soft, but not very amenable to staying on grain!

via A Fashionable Stitch

Lambswool interlining, via A Fashionable Stitch

But I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be setting in the sleeves, or hand sewing them in to get that lovely soft shoulder curve that my French Jacket has. Potentially they’ll be set in as getting the right location for hand sewing may be a bit too challenging on my own. We’ll see.

The Marfy pattern as intended has a contrast section at the collar which I’d original though to use the lining for. After making and adjusting my muslin, the collar feels a bit smaller than I was envisaging, so I’m thinking of using a matching pale cream charmuese here instead – using the illusion of colour to visually cheat and make it look a little bigger.

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The Marfy jacket has darts, which I converted into princess seams before cutting out my muslin (easier to deal with when I knew I would be working with thick-ish fabrics). I’m glad I did, because the adjustment you see here is one I need to do quite regularly. I’ve added some extra space at the bust to the side front panel, which allowed the collar to sit flat across my chest, rather than gape like on my left side.

The jacket pattern is only slightly fitted – of course, it fit really very well out of the packet – just with the need for a bit of extra boob space. I did flirt with leaving it otherwise unadjusted – but decided in the end that having a non-waist-defining jacket wouldn’t be doing me many favours. So I did pin in the side and princess seams slightly to get a closer fit, and I more than likely will add more space at the upper arms. I can determine that better at the first basted-together fitting, as my fabrics will be thicker than my mock-up! Thank goodness for large seam allowances, as they really do allow you to take into account the differences between how the toile’s fabric and the final fabric react to the pattern.

Also, simple things like the fact that the upper and lower collar pieces allow for turn of cloth make me smile. The sleeve cap looked fabulous just in the muslin, too. Here’s the final, adjusted, un-clipped and un-pressed muslin… gosh they always look terrible on camera:

Marfy 3348 muslin 2

I finally go to try out the walking foot on my machine, to see how the combination of fabric, lambswool and charmuese worked with quilting:

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Totally luxe and lovely on the inside… but the lines do show through somewhat on the outside (probably due to the loft of the lambswool).

For now I’ll most likely power forward on my mum’s French Jacket (because I know what I’m doing there) so I can ponder just how I’m going to bring all those elements together into the Marfy Jacket and decide whether I’m willing to ‘go Jackie O’ (I’ve read that apparently on some of Jackie Kennedy’s Chanel Jackets, the quilting lines were visible). In the meantime, I’ll be posting progress shots on instagram, of course.

Until soon!

 

G31002: Ink & Spindle Portside Set

I’ve loved the Australiana prints and earthy textures of Melbourne’s very own Ink & Spindle ever since ‘discovering’ them – they make eco-friendly hand printed textiles on ethically sourced fabrics. I’ve even been lucky enough to hang out in their production space a couple of times when I’ve joined the Handmaker’s Factory ladies (Jorth! and Nikkishell) for knitting lessons. It’s a wonderfully inspiring and feel-good place!

The Portside Travel Set was perfect to get my heavy-weight fabric on. It also rather stylishly fills the gap between carry-on suitcase and backpack for weekend escapes and overnight trips.

Portside Duffel Bag

I chose a Kangaroo Paw print (a pretty native plant that blooms in reds, yellows and pinks) on a 600gsm raw hemp canvas from their online shop, and paired it with some of the left over oatmeal-coloured canvas from my Baby It’s Cold Outside coat.

Yellow Kangaroo Paw

Kangaroo Paw image from The Two Minute Gardener

The yellow and oatmeal match means I now have a coat and weekender bag that unintentionally match each other. Ha! I was actually a little concerned about all the neutral tones being a bit much, but I think it worked ok.

The hemp canvas is surprisingly soft (and pliable!) given it looks rather a bit like hessian. I interfaced all the Duffel Bag pieces with iron-on interfacing, and also underlined in calico. Seeing as it matched so well and I’m reticent to buy new fabric (stashbusting is go chez poppykettle atm), I also lined this with calico.

Portside Duffel Bag

Portside Duffel Bag

I do believe I may have halved the remaining life of my sewing machine motor with all the upholstery thread and super thick fabrics… I was dealing with a lot of thread snowballs, but still managed to get the side you see looking good:

Portside Duffel Bag

Portside Duffel Bag

Portside Duffel Bag

It was a real challenge to get my stitching lines up close to the hardware, with a few feet being changed out to achieve the closeness. I was trying to minimise the chances of the D-rings swivelling around during use because they’re so curved.

As was expected, sourcing quality hardware that fitted my vision was very challenging. I wanted gold zipper teeth on cream to play along with the theme of this project, which I found on Etsy. I’ll admit I paid a ridiculous sum to get these zips. The 1.25 and 1.5 inch webbing used for the handles of the bigger bag I sourced here, and the gold hardware from here.

I did notice one inconsistency with this otherwise excellent pattern – if you’re sewing with a patterned or directional fabric like I did – pattern piece four has its grainline on the crossgrain, not the grain. Had I positioned this pattern piece as per the grainline mark on the pattern piece, I would have had this segment showing my Kangaroo Paw on the side, instead of being upright.  Thankfully I noticed it and turned it around.

The other thing I might change were I to make this again would be to include a tab either end of the zip, which would be achieved by either elongating the bag or using a 12″ zip instead of a 13″ zip. I did this on a small (unblogged) toiletries bag I made last year and I like both the look and the extra strength/stability it lends to this area.

Instead, I used a bit of the cotton webbing to beef up the seam between the zip end and the side of the bag:

Portside Duffel Bag

Otherwise, I behaved in a highly unorthodox fashion and followed the instructions for this pattern to the letter. Except for deciding to ‘line’ the side pocket (with calico) on the outside because having two layers of hemp folded over to create the pocket opening would have been too thick.

This bag has already made its maiden voyage, and I love it to bits!

I also made the Dopp Kit:

Portside Duffel Bag

Portside Duffel Bag OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had to move the handle up a little so I could get the layers of fabric through my machine. The side pocket hidden zip thing is super cute and the kind of detail I love when it comes to sewing, but I’m unlikely to use this part of it. But the size of this little bag is perfect for all my toiletries, which makes me happy. I will be lining it, however – which is not included in the pattern but pretty basic to figure out.

My only issue with the Dopp kit is the pattern piece that goes either side of the top zip. The top zip is specified to be 13″ – and the 13″ zip I bought measured exactly 13″ from the start of the teeth to the end of the teeth. By logic then, the piece either side of the zip with 0.5″ seam allowance should be 14″.

Portside Dopp Kit

Not so – the pattern piece was exactly 13″ long. I had to add an additional inch to ensure I had adequate seam allowances. My pattern piece is on the top. As this didn’t affect the rest of the pattern pieces and how the Dopp kit came together, I presume it must just be a mistake.

Otherwise, I love my new bags. Easily stored because they can just be rolled up, but both are fabulous in size and convenience for being able to be carried on as hand luggage onto a plane. Definitely a sewing win!

Portside Duffel Bag

S1302: Mix’n’Match Tofino’s

Time for something easy to sew, thank you very much – there was a time not so very long ago I thought that if I even sewed a cushion cover in the next year, that would be too much, too soon. Couture techniques and hand sewing have been (temporarily) banished from the realm… and lets not even talk about this new law being 1 garment too late!

These are the Sewaholic Tofino pj pants, and there were gasps of shock at Social Sewing when I asked to use one of several overlockers hauled to GJs for sewing with on the day…. I’d honestly forgotten such a machine even exists!

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I’ve got a fair bit of Liberty in my stash, but criminally – I’ve yet to sew with hardly any of it. I got these gorgeous prints from Mill Rose in Ballan – they have easily the biggest range of Liberty I’ve EVER seen in person. They have virtually every print, in every colour way, on the shelf and readily available for petting. It’s worthy of a bit of hyperventilation. The front tie and the piping are from silk satin from the stash – there was the perfect amount of silk leftover from the cuffs on my silk robe, which matched wonderfully.

Crazy how here the silk looks like a dirty yellow... but more lime green on my robe!

I absolutely adore this print/colour combo. Crazy how here the silk looks like a dirty yellow… but more lime green on my robe!

Were it not for the fact that Sewaholic patterns are designed for a body shape that I’m very definitely not, that would probably be the end of this post. However, there was two full sizes between my hip and waist measurements. Really, I should have just bought a Vogue/McCalls pj pattern, but hey – I got caught up in the hype back when this was released and bought this against my better judgment. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have ever done that…

So because old habits die really, really hard (or in my case, not at all) – I wearable muslined them in a super cute cherry blossom print flannelette, with pink piping. Here they are, in a straight size 8 which according to the Sewaholic Size Table, I match from the hips down (I measured a 12 at the waist):

Sewaholic Tofino 4  Sewaholic Tofino 5

Desperate need for a Flat Butt Adjustment going on there. I think that photo just put to bed my life long dream of being a professional pyjama-bottom modeller!!! hehe.

Ahem. For my liking there is way too much baggy space at the back, and the wide-leg just a tad too wide for my shape.

So a few adjustments were in order.
– I shortened the leg length by a ridiculous number of inches (I did that before I cut the flannelette ones)
– I removed the widening taper of the side panel, so they are straight up and down (rather than getting slightly larger towards the ankle)
– I reduced leg width by taking out fabric from the seam between the side panel and the pants back… around about 4 inches all up. Probably about an inch too much, really. This simultaneously made the leg a little slimmer and fixed my need for a Flat Butt Adjustment.

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Confession time – so I may have lied a little about the overlocker thing. I overlocked the side seams of my cutesy flannelette pj pants… but I totally frenched the seams on my liberty pj pants. Guilty as charged.

I did a quick test on some scraps to make sure it would work with the piping in it – no dramas there so I moved on. It should be stated that making your own piping is boring prospect. I’d buy over DIY if you can!

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I think the amount of rise on these pants is just about perfect.

The instructions would have you tie your tie around the two non-functional button holes sewn into the waist band. I reinforced my buttonhole then ended up sewing the silk tie to that reinforced section so it can’t be lost in the wash.

Sewaholic Tofino 2

If I were to make these again, I would not sew the two tie pieces together, and instead sew them to my waistband reinforcing on the opposite side of the buttonhole… so there is zero strain on the buttonhole, like you see below. It’s a pretty long tie and has a surprising amount of weight to it.

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Otherwise, I now have three perfectly good pairs of lounge-about-the-house pants, doubling as pyjama pants when I need to stay overnight somewhere. Because I’m one of those people that would rather take the risk of getting caught out if there’s ever an emergency in the middle of the night…