Wednesday 30 July 2014

Honest garment sewing

As a Plus Size goddess woman, I find it difficult to find clothes that fit and that can also be considered 'trendy' for my age group.  I long to wear handmade clothes in the fabrics that I drool on in the fabric shops.

The minute I was contacted by Simplicity New Look (shortly after the #NYLon meet up) to see if I would like to sew a couple of patterns from their website, I jumped at the chance.  Once I started looking on their website for something that I liked and would possibly suit me, I discovered that they had Plus Size patterns!  I put 'plus' in the search box and there were loads of garments available - and at very reasonable prices (in pounds sterling).  I eventually chose "It's so easy it's Simplicity" pattern #1494 for unisex Pyjama bottoms [US sizes S-XXXL] along with a "Burda Style" Dress and Tunic pattern #6972 [US sizes 18-30].

These patterns were provided at no cost to me so that I could review them.  All my opinions are my own!  Thank you Simplicity for allowing me to try my hand at garment sewing.  I will definitely continue sewing clothes for myself and I will no doubt improve each time.  Everyone has to start somewhere, right!   

Here are some of my top tips when sewing a garment:
  1. Take really thorough measurements of your body and TRUST the sizing guide on the pattern!
  2. Before cutting into really expensive fabric, make a test garment in cheap(er) fabric to see if you need to make any adjustments.
  3. Buy a fabric marking tool (a tailors chalk or something similar) to transfer all of the pattern markings onto the fabric.  There are different colours out there so depending on what colour your fabric is, you can buy a colour that will show up.
  4. Read the pattern OUT LOUD if the instructions are confusing or if there is no diagram to follow. 
  5. If you trace the pattern, be VERY VERY accurate and mark all the pattern markings onto your tracing paper.  Label each piece as labelled on the original pattern.
Yes, this is a list of things I wished I had done!!  'Sew', with all of these tips in mind, let me share my garment sewing experience with you!

Pyjama bottoms
I did not measure myself for the pyjama bottoms - I figured that I was a XXL so I went for it!  I pinned the pattern directly onto my fabric, cutting through the printed tissue and then followed the directions to sew them up.  Before the waistband and hem stage, I could already see that they were going to be huge so I put them on to show Mr Crafty Shenanigans and we laughed and laughed!  They were about a foot too big at the waist and the 'waist' came up to my boobs!  Sexy pj's right?!   

So, I spent some time ripping out all the seams so I could re-cut the fabric to my size.  I sort of measured myself and still didn't trust the pattern (I am apparently a slow learner!) so I cut the Large size on the pattern.  However.... since I cut the tissue paper initially to the XXL size, some of the L size markings were now cut away so I had to make a few modifications to make them fit me better after they were sewn up.

Additional modifications I made were to narrow the legs slightly only because I thought they were a bit too baggy.  I also cut 5 inches off the waist before inserting the elastic and I double folded the fabric at the waist band where the elastic went to make it sit on my waist when the elastic was inserted.

I learned quite a bit from making this garment and I am happy to say that I will make another pair of these again another day, now that I know what 'size' I am and how they fit.  I already have the most delicious flannel for the next pair!  The most useful thing I did was label each piece of leg fabric in pencil near the waist area to show me which was the Front and Back.  This made sewing them together much easier.  When they were finished, I sewed a little ribbon to the front of the pj's so I can tell which way to put them on!

Before hemming.  Pixlr graphics. 

My opinion of the pattern would be that it was a great Beginner pattern but I personally needed a couple more diagrams (I am a visual learner) to make some instructions easier to follow or perhaps a few extra sentences in the written instructions instead!  The pattern was definitely suitable for Beginners and I eventually created a wearable pair of really cool looking pyjamas.  Success!!

Tunic top
I am sad to say that I have given up making the tunic top (in my chosen fabric anyways).  This pattern has beaten me despite being labelled as 'easy'.  The fabric I picked was a delicious Kaffe Fassett rayon, which the pattern said was a suitable fabric to use, but I discovered it was too slippery for me to sew.  As a beginner, I think that I should have definitely picked a different fabric.

The pattern did not have enough diagrams for me so I struggled from the beginning.  Like I said before, I am a visual learner so pictures or diagrams are more helpful than words.  Not understanding the written instructions made me quite frustrated which meant that I procrastinated and avoided completing it.  Each time I attempted to work on it, I felt overwhelmed and stupid for not understanding so I would walk away.  In hindsight, I should have made a test garment in cheap(er) fabric so the pressure of messing up expensive fabric wasn't always on my mind!  

One of my first mistakes was that I traced my pattern and I am fairly certain that I was not accurate enough.  Add that factor to the slippery fabric and I created a disaster before I even started!   This pattern had a lot of pieces compared to the pj's which only had two!  

One day I will attempt another version of this tunic and enlist the help of my clever garment-sewing pals.  Once I have someone helping me and explaining as I go, I am sure it will all make sense and I will realise how simple this tunic (probably) is/was.  Stay tuned I guess!

My opinion of this pattern was that it was not 'easy' as suggested.  Someone with more garment sewing experience under their belt would no doubt make this in a flash but as I have only followed two tissue patterns in my adult life, I found it difficult. 

Thank you Simplicity [] for sending me these patterns to review.  I look forward to sewing for myself again one day!

Readers: please let me know some of your top tips to follow when sewing garments - I need all the tips and advice I can get!

Happy sewing!

Sunday 20 July 2014

June 2014 - month in review

Here I am FINALLY sharing my June makes!  The 20 days I was home in June totally flew by because of prep and anticipation for my trip to Canada plus trying to get a few sewing projects completed before I departed!  I have now been home two weeks and I am still feeling behind on all my sewing and blogging!   

So what did I manage to get done BEFORE I went away for my holiday?

I actually have two favourite June finishes.  The first is my Schnitzel & Boo mini quilt swap for my secret partner.  I blogged about it HERE.  HST's are wonderful things - so many designs can be created from them.  Check out my mosaic of just some of the possibilities HERE.

And the second favourite is my Maple Leaf mini quilt made for Katy of Lethargic Lass.  I must say that meeting Katy in person in Canada a couple of weeks ago was a quilty-highlight for sure!  Katy is one of the coolest blogging pals I have so I jumped at the chance of making her a mini quilt when she suggested that we do a private swap.  I LOVED making this mini for Katy (and I love the one she created for me).  

You see.  Katy shares my love of dachshunds so I had to add a doxie in there.  Thank you to Di of Willowbeck Designs for that fabric!!!

June is already a distant memory and August is just around the corner.  I will be making a July mosaic before I know it.  Happy sewing everyone!

Saturday 19 July 2014

Quilty-Canadian adventure

When I was in Canada a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky to be able to attend a meeting of the Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild.  When I found out when and where it was I emailed to ask if I could go and they said yes!  Because of this amazing on-line quilty-community, I already 'knew' a few of the members [Pam of Mad About Patchwork, Katy of Lethargic Lass, M-R of Quilt Matters] so when Katy and I were IG'ing one night, she suggested we do a side swap and exchange when we meet in Ottawa.  So that's what we did!

We only shared our favourite colour(s) with each other and decided that the mini should be between 12-20 inches.  The rest was up to each of us to decide on.  Pretty open parameters, wouldn't you say?   Katy got me spot on - green, aqua, grey and linen = yum!

Katy EPP'd some stretched/elongated hexies, called coffins apparently, and off set them in some delicious Essex dyed linen.  You can't see it in the photo but Katy did some perfect free motion quilting in the linen.  Katy even made me a sausage/wiener dog mini-mini using applique!    

For the backs, we both used the Ikea Nummers!  Great minds think alike!!  You can see my hand stitching a bit better here on the backing.

For Katy's mini quilt, all I knew was that her favourite colours were brown and yellow.  I decided to make her a Maple Leaf mini because I have always loved the quilts I have seen with the maple leaf block so this was my chance to make something with that shape.  I even did some hand stitching!   The middle square is a hand stitched maple leaf in white.  And look - I added a sausage/wiener dog too!!

As you can see from the photo at the very top, we exchanged our mini quilt creations in front of the entire guild.  I loved the meeting - full of energy and laughter and even some fnar fnar moments.  This was their last meeting until September and happened to be the AGM so I got to see how another guild ran the business side of things. Very professional.  Laura, the President, is a wonderful leader and I wish her a fantastic second year.  Who knows, maybe one day I will live back in the Ottawa valley and be a member!!??  Thank you Katy for my wonderful mini and mini-mini 'Jax' and I hope we can meet again soon and eat cake (again).

Monday 14 July 2014

Busy as a (Canadian) beaver

I am busy-busy-busy trying my hand at garment sewing.

I am about to cut into the 'mean fish' [a.k.a. piranha] fabric...

I am nearly finished the Kaffe top...

So all my fingers are crossed that I can master sewing some Plus Size clothing - my wardrobe definitely needs an update!

'Big' reveal soon!

Saturday 12 July 2014

Today I am....

...over at Lily's Quilts sharing my FINISHED Oakshott 'Plaid' quilt!!!   Click HERE to go to Lynne's blog!  Thank you Lynne!

Thursday 10 July 2014

Quarter 3 Finish Along GOALS

 Finish Along 2014

I am perhaps a tad delusional.  I always create a ginormous list of things that I think I will finish over a 3 month period but always start more projects than I finish.  So.  New tactic for myself - create a more realistic list. 

July-August- September 2014 GOALS

1.  Oakshott Plaid quilt

2.  Kaffe tunic top 

3.  Piranha pyjamas

4.  Sew Sew Modern big and small items

5.  Michael Miller project

6.  Simply Solids bee quilt

7.  Sew Together Bag for Nat

8.  A handful of Thumb and/or Mice pincushions for Nat
 [no picture]

9.  A handful of tea wallets from Patchwork Please and Displacement Activity

Wish me luck this quarter!  I had four finishes in Quarter 2 with more than a dozen WiP's listed so fingers crossed I can accomplish more than four WiP's between now and September!

Linking my goals to The Littlest Thistle.

Monday 7 July 2014

ALYOF July goal

Can you believe I actually achieved my June goal but missed the linky party by a day?  I was in Canada and my heat-stroke brain thought there were 31 days in the month.  Doh.  Oh well.

My July goal will be to finish my Oakshott Plaid quilt.  Here is a picture of it a couple of weeks ago:

 Linking to Sew Bittersweet Designs

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Happy Canada Day!!


Happy Canada Day!

I haven't been in Canada for Canada Day celebrations for over a decade so today is going to be great!  A smoked brisket, some Canadian beer, grape Koolaid, ice cream sandwiches and Twizzlers red licorice will be all be involved, I'm sure!  And so will a swim at the pool next door!  I've got my new red t-shirt on and factor 60 sun screen.  I am ready!

French Cruller donut
My trip home ends in two and a half days so I have been frantically eating my way across the Ottawa Valley to satisfy cravings for things I can not get/eat in the UK!!  I've managed to eat an Arby's roast beef sandwich, some Little Caesars garlic bread sticks, cheese curds (picture below), Swedish berries and Big Feet.  Did you know that Tim Hortons does French Cruller [sounds like 'crew-ler'] holes/bites?  Yum.  I've put a picture above to show you what the donut looks like, though I wouldn't call a French Cruller a donut!   

Cheese curds
Today will satisfy the grape Koolaid craving and who knows what else I will fit in in the next couple of days!!  Oh and guess what?  I had jello with fruit in it at my aunt's house the other day - on the same plate as the ham and salads!!  I loved that as a kid but sometimes there would be vegetables in it! 

Image credit

Hopefully Mother Nature will keep the rain to herself.  The breeze today is great - makes the 31*C temperature (feels like 41*C with the humidity factored in) almost bearable!  Yesterday felt like 49*C.  Hot.  Damn hot.  I have a little Fiat 500 soft top convertible as my rental car so I have been zipping around in that!!

So there you have it!  The next time I check in with you I will be back in the UK so until then -- Happy Canada Day!!