Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Completed: An almost eponymous skirt

In my last post I referred to my Autumn/Winter sewing plans. I haven't blogged these, because it seems that blogging my intentions is the kiss of death to said plans, and I don't want to jinx it. I have some good, viable makes planned for this season, that I want to make happen.

The first is this: the Moss Mini by Grainline Studios.

I have to confess I am in real danger of becoming a Jen/Grainline fangirl. Her patterns are great and just what I need in my wardrobe right now. In case you are not familiar with Grainline (and if not, why not?), she also designed the Scout Woven Tee of which I am so enthralled. You can see my Scouts here, here, here and here. I have another planned. I just need to pluck up courage to make an Archer and I am contemplating the Linden.

Back to the Moss. I have had a particular version of this skirt planned in my head for a while now. Recently I ordered the fabric, which you'll have seen if you follow me on Instagram (this). I love the fabric but it is lighter weight than I imagined and now I have my doubts. I am considering underlining it to stiffen it up slightly, but not sure with what. Any suggestions?

In the meantime I decided to make what I hoped would be a wearable muslin from this upholstery/home dec fabric from Ikea which I'd been hoarding for a while. I love this fabric. It's very stiff and quite thick which gives it great structure for this shape of skirt. It's a very dark, dark grey, and is ribbed. It actually reminds me of grosgrain ribbon in texture (hence the post title). Pity it wasn't green! It very nearly killed my sewing machine more than once, when sewing over multiple layers, and my needle actually got stuck in the fabric and was wrenched out of the machine at one point. The lining is leftover Liberty Tana Lawn from my kimono. Small Boy keeps asking why I made a skirt out of my dressing gown.

I'm still fluctuating between measurements. At least I hope I am. My waist measurement is currently 30" and it was 28" pre-pregnancy. Those last 2 inches seem to be quite stubborn and don't seem to want to go anywhere. That said, my waist measurement only really affects anything that is high waisted. I am back into pre-pregnancy jeans (and in fact recently bought a pair of jeans that are 26" waist! Oh Gap and your unrealistic, but very flattering sizing!), because they sit below my natural waist. I'm not going to pretend there isn't a bit of muffin top going on with those jeans, but that's what loose tops are for. Since the Moss is designed to sit 2" below the natural waist, I cut what would be my normal size - a 6. I'm actually a 4 in the hips, but I cut a straight 6 figuring I could take it in if necessary, but with this being an A line skirt, I didn't think it would make too much of a difference.

I made the skirt pretty  much as directed. The only changes were that I used lining rather than self fabric for the waistband lining to reduce bulk; I omitted all interfacing for the same reason; and I added patch pockets to the back.

I wanted this to be a muslin but also a practice run, so this is the most detailed "muslin" ever. Every seam is top stitched, which I really enjoyed doing. So satisfying, and it gives me great pleasure to look at. Sewing nerd alert. Pity it's black on black and you can't see it. I also took great care to ensure the back yoke matched perfectly.

The primary reason I wanted a practise was the fly zip. My first ever. And I don't know what all the fuss was about. I used the pattern instructions plus the fly zip tutorial on the blog. Actually both are the same but the tutorial has photos and the instructions diagrams. Sometimes one was clearer and vice versa. It took a bit of head scratching, a bit of unpicking, and about 3 hours. I even sewed the whole thing shut at one point (and nearly killed my machine in the process), but I got there. AND I AM SO PROUD! Honestly, it's like my third child. I keep looking at it in wonder and awe, amazed at what I created! I still have no idea how it goes together and can't imagine I will ever be able to do it without the instructions, but who cares?

What really got me unstuck on this make was the waistband. It's a curved waistband, which was new to me, but the issue was it was too short. When I started to attach it I got a little confused as the instructions say to match the side seams (to what? The waistband is a single piece and the side seams aren't notched). There were 2 notches, which I presumed matched CF and CB although the CB notch wasn't referred to. But anyway that didn't matter as they didn't match. I did a bit of tugging and pulling and eventually got it to fit, by ignoring the notches, and attached it and the waistband facing. Only at this point did I realise it still didn't fit. See photo below - it didn't extend to the fly shield and therefore I would have had nowhere to sew a button!

My assumption was that something had gone wrong in printing or cutting the pattern piece, so I reprinted it, but it was the same size. When doing this I noticed some strange vertical marks on the printed version that were not on the screen. Weird!

Left is the printed version, right is on screen
I asked for help on IG but no one was any the wiser. Feel free to chip in if you know what's happened here. Shar pointed me in the direction of a post that Jen wrote earlier this year referring to issues with the waistband where people were cutting it on the fold - and it's not a symmetrical pattern piece - but I cut it flat as directed, so that wasn't the issue either. In the end, I measured how much I was short, about 7/8 inch, and added this to the CB of my waistband pattern piece and cut another. This is better but actually still not perfect - but this time I think it's just an issue with my fabric. The pattern piece includes 1/2""overhang" on each end for seam allowance, but because my fabric is so thick, I think it needs more to allow for turn of cloth. 

The instructions have you understitch the waistband facing once attached, but I could not for the life of me fathom out how to do this at the ends and round corners. In the end I just understitched as much as I could along the length of the waistband and left the rest. It's a pity because the waistband is a bit of a bodge job now. Annoying when I took such care over the rest. But with this style of skirt I am unlikely to tuck my tops in, so no one will really see it.

Some flat shots now:

Seams are all overlocked.
Patch pockets copied from a pair of RTW jeans. I'm pretty sure they are level IRL!
Somewhat ironically, given this is meant to be a muslin, I'm not sure the fit is right. The problem with fitting at the moment is that we have one full length mirror in the house, which is in our bedroom. But I can only sew when Baby Boy is asleep and guess where he still sleeps?! So when trying this on, I had to go by feel, rather than looking. And trying to stand on the sofa to look in the mirror over our mantelpiece. Which doesn't work. 

I think it's too big. I think it sits lower than it's meant to. It can't actually fall off, but the back waistband slips down, which makes the bottom of the front of the skirt stick out. I have decided to wear it for a while before deciding whether I want to do something about it. I really don't want to have to do a third waistband, but if it makes the skirt more comfortable and fit better, I might just do it. It's not like it's a neat waistband anyway. What I am unsure about is how best to fix it, especially for my next one. Should I just cut a smaller waist size? Just take a bit off the side seams? Or since it seems to be slipping down at the back, is that where the issue is and should I take a wedge out of CB? This is why I hate fitting. It's just so confusing.

Potential changes/lessons to learn for next time (other than fit)? 
  • If I was making this in a thick fabric again, I'd do the pocket lining and the pocket facing in lining fabric, (rather than just the pocket lining) to reduce bulk at the seams.
  • If I change the fit at the waist - add length. This is as short as I want to go, and obviously if it sits higher on the waist, the whole skirt hikes up a bit...
  • Add a bit more length to the waistband. I think about 3/4 would do it.

So, not a perfect skirt, but I am really, really pleased with it. It's a good basic skirt that will go with a lot in my wardrobe. And the top stitching and fly zip just make me so happy. Sad, but true.

If you can help with any of my above questions, and there are quite a few, please chip in via the comments. I'd love to know what you think.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Hoppity Hoppity Hop

The amazing Danielle from One Small Stitch, who never fails to amaze me with her flattery and generosity (I haven't yet told you that she knitted Baby Boy the most gorgeous cardigan!), has nominated me for this Blog Hop that's currently doing the rounds. Hopefully you are not yet bored of reading this type of post. I know I'm not. I love finding out more about fellow bloggers - it rounds out their personality in my head - and this hop is interesting in that it's about the writing process, not just the sewing.

So, here goes:

1. What am I working on?

Plans. I'm not actually sewing anything, but am planning my next few makes. In the past, I have fallen into the trap of writing a big "summer/autumn/winter sewing plans" type post, and then 100% failed to deliver. I always overestimate my capabilities and underestimate my time. This autumn/winter may be no different, but making my recent Scout in 3 days was a real confidence booster in terms of execution but also in terms of realising what I can achieve if I put my mind to it. P will be working in Dublin for 8 consecutive weeks in the near future, which will leave me lots of evenings to myself, with plenty of sewing time. Of course, it will also mean me looking after 2 children by myself all day (and since our recent holiday Baby Boy has steadfastly refused to go back to sleeping through the night. Sigh.), so of course my evenings may instead be spent exhaustedly collapsed in front of the TV. But I'll go with the optimistic view for now.

My next make is most likely to be another blouse - I bought this gorgeous viscose (below) at the recent Glasgow bloggers meet up for this purpose. I won both the Belcarra and the Afternoon Blouse back during Me Made May, so the viscose will probably become one of these. Unless I go the easy route and churn out another Scout. I am wearing my most recent one every other day at present!

Other plans include a Mabel, a Moss, more blouses/tees (patterns TBC) and perhaps even the Ultimate Trousers if I can psyche myself up enough.

I also have a huge pile of promised unselfish sewing that has been hanging around since the beginning of the year (I promised a friend a dress for her Christmas last year!), and since I  now know that I won't be having any daughters to sew for, I'm taking more interest in boys clothing patterns. I absolutely adore this tee by Girl Like The Sea:

Girl Like The Sea

2. How does my work differ from others in it's genre?

It's written by me. Hopefully my fabric and pattern choices, my personality, my decisions and my skills make my blog mine, because from every other aspect its the same as a million other sewing blogs out there.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I sew because I love it. Simple as that. My motivation was never to improve fit, to stop buying RTW or to make a stand against fast fashion. I just really like the process and the achievement. I find sewing utterly addictive and totally consuming. It allows me to switch off from every day life, as it requires concentration, but it's something I love to concentrate on, which makes it a joy. That being said, there is also some motivation around being able to make a "one of a kind" garment, as I do like to be different (my sister would say I like to be contrary, but I disagree :)). That I can make something fit better, that I can avoid unethical manufacturing processes are secondary benefits.

I'm not sure why I write. About 18 months ago, the idea of writing a sewing blog became appealing. I think I wanted to join in and belong to this great online community that I had recently discovered. I wanted to be part of the fun, and I wanted to communicate with like minded, passionate individuals. I suppose a small part of me also wanted to show off what I was making. I actually never expected to stick at it. I thought I'd get bored pretty quickly - I had previously written a blog that had a very short life - but then I found I really enjoy the writing process. I miss it when I don't blog. I've found that having had a baby this year has cut off 2 creative outlets for me - sewing and writing. The 2 have become intertwined for me.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I am quite ad hoc about both. As I mentioned above, I make plans but rarely stick to them, so there ends up being no great design. I am easily distracted by the next shiny pattern release, and by pretty fabrics. I didn't take part in Me Made May this year, but if I had done, I know my conclusions would have been no different from the previous year - not enough bottoms and not enough casualwear. I am hopeful this will change. Being pregnant and then not sewing for a while, plus now having different wardrobe requirements (I will be off on maternity leave for a year and don't have nearly enough casualwear for that) are forcing me to think differently. I can't necessarily make the next "big" pattern, as it might not fit my currrent lifestyle requirements, so I'm trying to focus on what will work for me and my current circumstances.

With writing, again there is no one approach. I obviously blog about more than just my sewing here. My personal life does make quite an appearance, and sometimes I have been brutally (too?) honest about things that have been going on in my life. Sometimes I just start writing and see what comes out. Sometimes I have a game plan. I write about what interests me and what I think I'd like to read elsewhere.

With the FO posts, it's a matter of documenting the what and the how. I narrate my post in my head as I sew, but of course I don't write it down, so when I eventually sit down to write, I'll have forgotten most of what I previously "wrote". I'll frequently publish a post only to immediately edit it with something (several things) I have missed. I try to keep a record of changes, issues I've encountered and fixes I put in place, plus any helpful tips I've come across along the way. I don't really consider myself good enough to be writing tutorials, but I like to give something back.

My photography leaves a lot to be desired but I like to ensure I include photos of me wearing the item I have made, front and back views, plus some photos of the insides. I am unfailingly honest about my makes and will post the duds as well as the successes. I'm not sure if that's what people necessarily want to read about, but for me it's important. I like to show that everyone makes mistakes, but more crucially I like to record what I learnt so that (hopefully) I don't make the same mistake again. Unless, of course, I am pregnant/hormonal/sleep deprived in which case I will continue to sew things inside out and back to front.

Writing a post takes a long time for me - several hours. I will write it, read and reread it. And then reread it again. Mostly I end up having to edit and remove content, as I waffle (I do it in real life too). It's important to me that I write "well". I like to read something that's well written (correct spelling, grammar, extensive vocabulary), so I am careful to write something I would want to read, as much as I can within my capabilities. I'm not saying I'm a brilliant writer - far from it, I am far too fond of excessive exclamation mark use - but I like to push myself to be the best I can.. I am also careful to keep my voice. I can easily be swayed by the writing styles of others (e.g. Lauren from Lladybird has a distinctive voice), but that wouldn't be me. And if I wrote like that, you'd be mightily disappointed if you ever met me!

So, I think that's it from me. I'd now like to nominate 2 fellow bloggers to carry on the fun, and I am keeping it here in Scotland, although neither of these bloggers are Scottish! - Kerry from Kestrel Makes and Nessa from Nessa's Place. Kerry's was was one of the first sewing blogs I discovered. I love that she makes 1980's patterns her own - they never look dated on her - and she is less likely to jump on the new pattern bandwagon, so there is always something different to read on her blog. I'm also pleased to hear she's planning to go back to recording her charity shop finds! Nessa makes clothes but also makes the most fantastic quilts. They truly are beautiful! I don't quilt, but again enjoy the differences in the posts she writes.

I have enjoyed this series so much that I would encourage any of you to join in, nomination or no nomination. In fact, although I'm not naming you, consider this your nomination if you fancy a go! If for no other reason than to appease my nosiness!

Finally, because this is a very text heavy post, here is a picture of Baby Boy to break things up. Told you, I put too much of my life in here!

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