Thursday, 22 November 2012


So I said I was going to describe my trouser pocket and fly finishing ways and if I don’t do it another week will pass by and not only will it not happen, but the thought of how it is not happening will block anything else I might want to write about.  And we don’t want all this to be over before it even begins.  So let’s go.

This is not a tutorial, mind, the very name of which now gives connotations which I am loathe to connote.  I do not seek to teach, nor to parlay this into a multimedia sewing and crafting career.  Someone, after all must be a passive consumer, these things are all pyramid schemes.  No, I merely seek to document, as much for my own benefit as for anyone else.  I do everything from first principles every time.  If I don’t make notes I will reinvent this in a year’s time.  I may anyway. I also disclaim that this may have been done elsewhere – I just have no recollection of seeing it.

Front pocket bags that hang solely from side seam and waist band are a problem for me, because when I jam my hands in my pockets (as I will) the characteristics of fabric cause them to swing out to the side, pulling down the front and emphasising my belly. But clearly I have to have pockets or what would I do with my hands? (answer: wave them when I talk, but that’s another story).  The pockets really need to be anchored to one another at the centre, or to a middle seam, to stop the push of my hands.  That way when I jammed my hands into my pockets, I would be stretching the pocket fabric across my belly, squishing it back (possibly to form an extra hip, but who’s counting).  

I have been intermittently toying with ways to achieve this by anchoring the extended pocket “yoke” of many Burda trouser patterns into the centre seam.  But this has never been fully satisfactory because as drafted this pattern piece is too short in width to reach the centre, and too short in height to fully cover the centre fly.  And if the piece is cut in the main material, often too bulky when caught into the seam.   

Then there's the fly underlap.  You need it to avoid unpleasant zip incidents, but then it’s all so bitty on the inside, which really bothers me.  And then I know that the other side of the zip is covered in use, but just having it sewn to the fly and otherwise sitting out there bothers me too.

So my solution is to extend the pocket yoke to the centre where it will act as a fly facing, thereby killing two birds with the one stone.

shape of yoke piece  - fly extension on main fabric at right
 The pattern needs to be adapted to do this, so that it will extend sufficiently past the centre line to permit it to be incorporated into the fly in this manner.  It is also necessary to shape it slightly, as the front of trousers for women usually has some waist shaping built in – this can be expressed in the form of a dart or pleat, but often it is a dart which is incorporated into the pocket shaping, by pivoting the pocket opening (another reason why a pocket may gape).  For this system you need a broad yoke at the centre, and the solution is to create a shape which curves up then down again at the fly.  This allows the piece to spread at the bottom to incorporate your hips.   
pinning yoke to pocket lining

I sew the pocket lining to the trouser front, then stitch this layer to the yoke piece. 

LH yoke trimmed to zip, RH yoke forms fly underlap

 The fly can already be done, or done now (fold the yoke back so it doesn’t get caught) but not topstitched.  Then I smooth the yoke over the fly, fold it and catch it to the zip to form the fly underlap.  The other side I overlock (serge) at a point which will cover half the width of the zip tape on this side. Then I lay it flat and topstitch.

Effectively the yoke becomes the top front of the garment, with the pocket area as an overlay.  I used this to finish this pair of trousers (noting that in this case they had a calico yoke with a facing, and that I made half the underlap in a nice cheerful purple to be confusing) a few weeks back.  At the time I was going to add that the pity was I didn’t like them.  But time has eased the relationship, and I’m quite happy with them now.  Inside and out.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Having a Bunt

Yes, well, I bunted.

I've wanted to bunt for years, but never quite had the nervc (or the time or the binding foot).  So finally, I bunted.  And you know how some ideas seem like a really good idea at the time?  Like the first time you had control of making the cake and got to determine how much was left in the bowl for licking.  And thought - "hmm, I'll try 80% and see how that goes" But it didn't go so well?

I'm feeling a sugar rush and a little touch of toothache.

And note how there are four cornflower blue flags?  I did those last.  The other 18 I roll hemmed.  By flags 19-22 I just wanted to binder the thing.  Guess which ones went most easily through the binder foot?
  And sit most nicely?

So, the message to take onwards though life?  Don't bunt.  Just don't bunt.  But if you must bunt, then DON'T ROLL HEM THE EDGES!!!!!!.   Thank you.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Zipless Sewing

Something quick(ish) and dirty (well it will be soon) for a change....

New Umbrella Canopy!

The sun ate our old one, and I just couldn't bring myself to throw out a perfectly good frame and start again.  It seemed so wrong.  But where to find a new cover for a decade old umbrella?  Why stitch it, of course!

There is a lot of stitchin' in one of these suckers, I must say.  Eight flat felled panels and a little round hemmed hat on top.

It helped immensely that the colour was so cheerful.  I chose azure precisely for this reason - navy would have had me reaching for the gin and razor blades.  And the thought of having it next to the pink rhodedendrons was an extra incentive to complete all those metres of seaming.

Though I probably didn't do as much as I could have, as I suspect that the seams could be a little stronger.  But then I suspect that the fabric could be a little stronger too, so it will be a race to the bottom, between my dodgy construction, and the durability of (home dec, admittedly) cotton twill, as I have no idea where I can get hold of sunresistent fabric.  And then maybe if I do a hot pink one.... maybe that would get me through the next time.

All set for our barbeque on Saturday.  Though there are a lot of scraps......hmmmmm.......bunting?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Behaviour of Patterns (and patterns of behaviour)

I love Burda.  The patterns are brilliant. They accommodate the hips and waist of an hourglass figure with very little alteration –depending (ahem) on the state of that figure at the time.  And if I do happen to have reduced my waist at any stage through exercise or self control, I’m not usually too fussed about such a simple and happy pattern alteration.  I know that size 42 is a good starting point for me, and I know it will continue to be so provided I periodically exercise some self control or, er just exercise.  The size won’t change sneakily to accommodate my growing girth, because (in my experience) Germans don’t manoeuvre like that – they won’t flatter you or bend the truth to make a sale.

Interesting clothes, well drafted, and they go together beautifully.  I know some people don’t like their instructions (some people – should I rather say anyone who ever commented on the net about them?) I don’t find them to be better or worse than other companies – largely because I don’t read them when sewing unless truly stuck.  I do try to read them when not sewing, by way of entertainment, or education.  I tend to zone out about three sentences earlier in Burda but really that only means I get three and a half sentences into other pattern instructions. 

 I’ve sewn for a while, seen and tried many techniques, read books, made the odd garment. I know how most things should go together,  and youtube/instructibles/make etc supply the rest.  Actually, I haven’t bought a non-burda, non-op shop or vintage pattern since about 1993 anyway, so I have no idea what the instructions are like these days.  But I digress.

But I hate Burda for the fact that we get them here three sodding months late.  And that is the shortest delay.  Often it’s three and a half sodding months.  Which is a long time to a borderline OC who has to check the newsagent twice a day just to be sure (and thank god it's the local newsagent, or I would be found sobbing in corners).  This is not strictly Burda’s fault – clearly the distributor is just not that interested but hey, they chose those monkeys so actually yes it is their fault. 

Burda 2012.10.121 - really liking pocketss
But I love Burda because now I can bypass those monkeys by going direct.  As a result of which, for the first time ever, at least until the end of tomorrow, I have a current English language Burda in my hot little mitts.  And I’ve already sewn a skirt from it.  Which I like a lot.  And here it is…

Though I’m pretty sure I’m not quite so… victorian dance hall in the silhouette in real life.  I hope not, as I really like the dart idea and the marsupial pockets.   I’m keen to adapt this idea to other bikeable skirt shapes.   

So, October 2012 Burda – sourced, devoured, stitched and now displayed, all before the end of the month.  A PB.  Of course now I haunt the mailbox twice a day.  In Europe they get the new Burda before the end of the month, doncha know. 

PS have now decided that knee boots above about 20 degrees  C is old school and aging.  I've sensed this change in the wind, but now it's here.  They are ok with jeans tucked in or tights and skirts in winter - for now.  But they no longer work for spring. And this would reduce the High Victorian pin-up effect too.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

On Bread

So I’m finally sewing. But not blogging about it – can I not do both together?  It would appear so far not!

However, tonight I had decided to try.  And I had a post have worked out in my head, but while procrastinating I looked at Kbenco’s blog and there it was already.  Pre-empted. ( But no-one reads this blog anyway, so here goes)

Soft focus trouser wearing shot in new bathroom
I was musing today on how there is much online discussion on “cake” sewing and “icing” ( I believe some may call it “frosting”) sewing, but in fact I seem to be stuck on bread sewing.  Really basic pieces that I can wear day after day to work, like well fitted work trousers.  Not ruthlessly memorable, because I may well want to wear them two days in a row. Made for my body which has hips and a short waist, and made well and hopefully flattering.

I dream of cake, I do, I yearn for icing.  But I want to wake up in the morning and put on something that is half decent and carries through my day helping me to feel good about being me. So bread is what I have been trying to sew.

Really boring very plain but versatile waistband

Gentle non-readers, these trousers gave me fits.  I just couldn’t get them over the line.  For a year  they fought me and I fought them.  There was very little actual unpicking as such, just a constant feeling of confusion and lack of interest.  I thought the fabric was too light once I’d cut them out (and it is, a bit, though ok for summer).  I thought I would feel like a blimp in them.  My head wanted to finish them - "nice fabric, goes with everything, very practical" but at heart I just wasn’t very interested, because they’re not very sexy.  So I would sew one seam and drift away to do something more interesting.

Rather nice, neat fly
Finally I gritted my teeth and  finished them at 1.30 on Sunday night.  And I’m still paying for that one – hence the soft focus shot.  Normally I would have worn them yesterday, being the first available day after finishing them.  But I just didn’t like them on me enough.
Actually rather groovy pocket/fly finish, if I say so myself.
Then I bit the bullet and  wore them today and they made me feel great. Comfy, cool, swishy -  I was really happy in the outfit I'd put with them.  I even got an unsolicitation from my most stylish work friend. Ciabatta! Baguettes!! Bread can be sexy!

And I have finally worked through a process to give me a fly finish I like inside as well as out, using the pocket yoke as a kind of curtain.  I may document that one later.

In fact I am a breadmaker in my cooking life as well, it's what I bring to work morning teas and family functions.  So I suppose that’s how it is. Bread for me.

But maybe cake tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

still not sewing, starting to feel like a laurence sterne character

Still no sewing!  Arm is good – I can type two handed, touch my nose, brush my hair right handed.  I can now outperform a two year old in every key result area except self control.  That is one advantage of breaking a bone in a dominant limb. Learned ambidextrosity can only go so far – the limb will assert its dominance as soon as it can, even if this is a little ouchy at times.  Which means my physio is very pleased with me.  So far.

No, what’s stopping me this week is this:

In summary: sewing space traversed by (admittedly very clean, neat and helpful) bathroom associated tradesmen.  Thin film of fc sheeting sawdust to be wiped off every surface - which I don’t want to include any internal part of an already primadonnaish Janome 6500. Access to other sewing supplies blocked by cadged marble vanity top (is it skip diving if the skip is on your own verge?) 

It may improve this week as we go into tiling mode - I hope so. I always dream more than I sew but these weeks I’m buzzing.  Something must be made….

But I have been op shopping, at various places, and pulled in a bit of a haul. 
l-r fine knit print (synthetic), cotton voile batik, raw silk

I love this pattern even if it is by Style.  It’s seventies, but in a good way.  My fabulous pattern features list has many of the elements of this pattern, it ticks raglan, yoke with gathers, neckline (what is the name of that neckline??), gathered/push-up sleeves.   I love it.  But it is a size twelve.  I am not a 12 – not in this pattern era.  For this era I am a big girl.  I’ve measured the pieces and in a stretch fabric (such as the black one pictured above, so providently provided by another op shop) I can probably get away with not altering most of the pieces.  Except in two crucial areas.  

The bingo wings will require (ahem) slightly more accommodation.  And the front will require significant expansion.  So today’s project will be to expand and resize as necessary.   Which I will try to detail for another post, another day.

In other opshopping, isn’t the top pretty?  I may have to hand it along to a niece though – it doesn’t seem to play well with my other clothes, probably on account of its extreme youth.  I also bought two pieces, a cardigan and a vest, in grey merino knit.   Usually when op shopping I am stalked by chartreuse linen (I have witnesses!) but on this day I was hunted by grey merino.  

One piece was a short cardigan with a buttoned cowl.  Now the function of a cowl is to drape, no?  Buttons and button bands, on the other hand, their purpose is to stiffen an edge so it will join and sit flat and neat, not really draping at all.  So that was not a happy relationship.  I was musing on how I might turn it into a wrap when my daughter asked for it.  So I gave it to her.  She wears it open, and it looks good.

Then when I wore the vest, a drapey necked thing which I had to belt for definition (think Jalie, or recent Style Arc and you would be on the money) she wanted that too.  Again, not so good on me, so I gave it to her as well.  They both suit her (though no photos as she doesn’t do photos) and keep her warm so all good, yes?

But I have set up a very unfortunate precedent, and I now have a raging case of a particularly insidious giant clothing moth, which is threatening to decimate my woollen knit wardrobe.  She is gunning for my favourite red merino cardigan (burda 03-12-122) and I don’t know how long I will be able to hold out.   

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

why sew (assuming you can sew)

There are three reasons why I sew.  Though late to blogging (if not to lurking) I have been sewing with some seriousness since 2007, and in a less intense manner since 4th grade.  Which… was quite a while ago.   But I’ve really stepped up the pace in the past few years, since discovering online resources and buying ye Janome.  I haven’t bought new outerwear since May 2009.  It’s a rare day when I don’t wear at least one item made by me, & quite frequently I’m fully dressed by home.  I also make a lot of my daughter’s clothing.  (I do op shop btw, so it’s not always all my own work.)  

But all this doesn’t tell you why I sew.  A big part of it is certainly bound up in the creative process fueled by all of the above.  I write, I draw, I make – it’s a big part of how I see myself.  I’m very intolerant of the frustrations and time involved in the  process but addicted to the thrill of seeing something made real and 3D that once existed only in my head.  

But that’s not the only reason.   I like the fact that when I sew I know the conditions under which my garments are made – that the only sweated labour is my own.  It’s interesting to see the sweatshop point coming up on various blogs, with reviews of a book (which I haven’t read) called “Overdressed – the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion.”  I have read a previous British book on the topic – “To Die For – is fashion killing the world?” & I can recommend it.  I imagine that the themes are remarkably similar -  if it’s all about sweatshops and the impact of cashmere on the Gobi desert, and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be.

As sewers we can avoid this to some degree but in a sense, we can only improve things by a few degrees, it’s not a perfect system. I buy new fabric, and much of the problem with clothing production is certainly mimicked in the mills which produce the cloth.  (I’m pretty sure it was the cloth mills that were first called “dark satanic”).  I suspect that we sewers are fooling ourselves if we take too high a moral ground over clothing provenance, because do we trouble our heads too frequently over fabric provenance when we click buy or take the roll to the counter?  And of course, don’t get me started on the shoes.  But it does cut down on the sweating.

Anyway abrupt transition from the high flown here, but the final reason I sew is illustrated by this waistband.  On a not inexpensive pair of fine woollen trousers bought eight years ago, when I went back to work post children.  Check out that puckering. It makes me look like a bag of wadding. I wasn’t sewing much then, nor particularly conscious of the deficiencies of ready to wear (snorts – I thought it was all my fault)  Only today when I tried them on again did I realise how lumpy this lumpy waistband makes ME look.  I can forgive a harassed sweated worker for not giving a shit how the puckered waistband of a pair of trousers will look on an overweight western woman.  But no-one else along the line gave a shit either.  Fashion doesn’t care if you look frumpy, just so long as you keep paying.  In fact quite the reverse, because if you never get it right. but keep hoping you will, you will keep paying.  The relationship basically exists until you put the money down, and then it’s over (unless you are a “brand ambassador” , but then you probably didn’t pay at all.)  I’m not going to pay snooty people to make me feel bad about myself because I can do it at home for free.  
Even that, I prefer to make for myself …

ps update on last post - all first world problems solved - new shoes now as follows:
Pixie boots and tan! ta, Wittner exchange.
 And D happily wearing slippers..!

Monday, 6 August 2012

It is a truth universally* acknowledged that a woman stuck at home with a broken arm and an internet connection will buy shoes.  

 Lots of shoes.


But alas it turned out that the best fun was in the delivery (like Christmas!) and the unwrapping.  Because the boots don’t fit and the shoes are the wrong red and… oh the first world problems I have to deal with…

Oh, and the (ahem) Wuggs aren’t for me, so I won’t find out if they are wrong until my shoe-hatin’ slipper refusnik daughter (*the apparent exception to the universality) gets home from school for her surprise.  Not confident of a good result there, either, for some reason which currently eludes me.

So it’s back to this:

LH one sleeveless thnead in HORRIBLE wool, RH future sleeved thnead in NICE wool
And Charmed.  I'm sure.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

It is hard to run a sewing blog without having sewing in it!   

There will be sewing in its future, just can’t do any yet. However, though we lack ghosts of sewing present, there are certainly ghosts of sewing past, as well as dreams of sewing future to be considered.  Today I’m thinking of projects to make when I have two working arms again.  As soon as I did this to myself, my great long list of winter projects just evaporated from my head.  Winter 2012, for me, was over as soon as I hit the ground.  I couldn’t even tell you what I wanted to make any more, it’s as if they had never even entered my mind. So all my sewing plans are for the summer to come.

Luckily I already have a looong wishlist for summer.  I’m obsessed with striped trousers and soft white blouses with red contrast embroidery –possibly (or not)worn together.  I can’t be arsed with joining pinterest and I’m not even sure if what I picture is out there – in fact I slightly hope it’s not. .So it’s clipart time  I want these:
Burda 2011.06.123


In (something like this from Mood, I can't seem to attach an image as blogger won't let me - new to this, is that a faux pas?)- striped denim or twill, but wider stripes and preferably in reds and purples.  I know that stripes are supposed to be widening but goddamnit that’s what I want.  And I suspect that’s wide even stripes, pundits.  Anyway, as I usually approach summer clothing with the apparent belief that I’m going to spent my time on the deck of a cruise ship sipping cocktails and laughing in the sunset, even mad clown pants could be more practical.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  One day soon.  Hmm, maybe I should get the ball rolling and cruise over to mood to order some.  After, I only need one good arm to sign for parcels....