28 April 2012

There ain't no party like a PJ party!

I know I'm late, but traffic was crazy! Er no - actually, the simplest of simple PJs nearly defeated me! These are the "third time lucky PJs":
I even managed to line up the checks! (hoorah!)
These PJs are uber-comfy and I love them! But I had all manner of issues sewing them up, because I thought "instructions, schminstructions - how hard can it be?". Well, first I sewed the front legs together. And serged them. And then realised my mistake. Do you know how long it takes to unpick serged seams?! The second time around, I failed to distinguish between the right and wrong side of fabric and ended up with two of the same leg. Ach. But finally, I made it... and it was worth it.

I used Simplicity 2328 and a super-snuggly checked flannel from Fabrics Galore.

And here I am with my current read:
I'm reading Storm of Swords, by George RR Martin. Not my usual thing, but I'm totally hooked on this series, and was pleased to see that I'm in good company - both Paunnet and Amy (of Sew Well) are reading the same series too.

Thanks Karen for hosting the PJ party! I'm off to eat cake and watch films, in true PJ-party style.

speak soon!

27 April 2012


Rummaging through my stash this week, planning my next few sewing projects, I noticed that I have quite a lot of blue:

I haven't bought all of this recently - it's been a slow accumulation (probably I should just say no now, when faced with another pretty blue). While I had clear plans for some of the fabric when I bought it (mostly the skirts), the rest I just bought because I loved it.

So here's what I have planned:
a & b - these are both dress-lengths of cotton lawn. I haven't decided on exactly what I want to do with b but, I'm thinking Pattern Runway's Gathered Sundress for a:
c is definitely going to be a Colette Violet, and so might d (the polka dot)
a is a navy ikat, which will become a straight skirt
b is blue leopard(!) print, which will likely become a Wiksten tank top
c (more polka!), which will become a straight skirt
d is a Liberty poplin, which will become a dress version of Simplicity 2215:
e I'm not sure - it's more of that cheap polycotton from Walthamstow market
f Chambray (blue/black), which will also become a Simplicity 2215
a is a dress length of silky cotton, and I'm thinking Simplicity 2145:
b is a soft lawn, which will be a Colette Sorbetto
c & d is some of the lovely new Alegria fabric, which will be a Colette Hazel
e is some lovely soft oxford shirting, which will become a short-sleeved Wiksten Tova shirt
f is a slubb cotton, which will be a straight skirt
left is a Liberty lawn, which I can't decide what to do with, though I do love it
right is a soft cotton lawn, which will become a dress, maybe a Colette Pastille

I also have some denim hanging up in my wardrobe, which will become a straight skirt.

So that's 17 potential makes. Totally unrealistic of course, and I'll be surprised if I manage half that! And even then, perhaps it shouldn't all be blue!

I also want to make a dress to wear to a wedding this summer, though I haven't decided what pattern or fabric to use.

But up first, a Colette Violet, then one of the Simplicity 2215s.

have a lovely weekend and speak soon!

24 April 2012

FO: Wiksten Tulip skirt

Here's my most recent make:
Tulip skirt

In case you hadn't noticed, I love Wiksten patterns, and this is no exception. The Tulip skirt was published in the first Stitch magazine in 2008. The pattern used to be available free, but without the instructions, so I downloaded the digital edition (currently $4.99). I've just noticed that the pattern and instructions are now available to buy and download separately as an eProject.

It's a lovely pattern, really well designed and quick to sew up. The waistband and placket are finished by hand. I really enjoyed the hand sewing (it's nice to be able to do some sewing while watching TV) though I need to add beeswax to my shopping list - I did get into a bit of a tangle every now and then.
tulip skirt
inside of waistband and placket
I used a cotton linen blend, which I bought about a year ago from YoZo Craft (who I think are based in Korea). The fabric is difficult to photograph, but has a lovely denim effect and is a lovely weight for spring and summer. I think I used less than 1.5m. I finished it off with some wooden buttons from John Lewis.
tulip skirt
And here's a side view
I was a bit worried that the small pleats at the back might emphasise my bottom, but actually they're very flattering.

I cut my usual size in Wiksten patterns (small, merging to medium at the hips) and it's perfect! I made a couple of modifications:
  • I eliminated the waist ties.
  • I added two buttons to the waistband, instead of using the hook/eye and waist tie closure.
  • I added 3" length to the XL hem line.
If you do decide to make your own, check out the pattern errata on Jenny Gordy's blog - some of the corrections seem to have been made to the Stitch version, but not all.

So now I've made all three of the Wiksten patterns - I very much hope Jenny Gordy releases some more, because I love her style.

The sums

Pattern: £3.26 ($4.99)
Fabric: £15 (incl shipping)
Buttons (7): £3.85
Thread: £0 (from stash)

Grand total: £22.11

I'm really thrilled with this make. I'm in need of a few more basics to see me through MMM'12, so this is a very welcome addition to my me-made wardrobe.

Speak soon!

17 April 2012

Just too too lovely

I love this new fabric collection from Cloud 9 fabrics:

Alegria, by Cloud 9

The collection is designed by Geninne, an artist with a gorgeous blog and wonderful prints for sale in her shop.
Isn't this fun?

I can't decide which of the prints is my favourite, but I think I need a dress made out of either of these:
Blue birds
Maybe both.

(oh there is just too much tempatation on the interwebs!)

speak soon!

16 April 2012

Pyjama party!

I'm sewing along with Karen and a HUNDRED others! That's one big pyjama party!

I'm just sticking to good old-fashioned, PJ trousers, in a cosy checked cotton flannel:

just the trousers, not the shirt
Both the pattern and the fabric are from my stash - I've been meaning to sew a new pair of PJs for an age, but they're just not terribly exciting, are they? Thanks to Karen for the motivation!

I'm tempted to sew a pair for Mr P&N too, but he gets his annual allocation of PJs at Christmas, so perhaps I shouldn't confuse matters.

Oh I love PJs.

speak soon!

13 April 2012

Walk on the wild side: FO Violet

I present my Violet blouse (also known as the Top of Significant Achievement).

I like how this turned out, but I doubt I'll ever wear it for the following reasons:

~I bought this mega cheapo lightweight poly cotton for £1.50 a metre from Walthamstow market (there's a stall that sells mainly this kind of fabric, in myriad pretty prints).  It does not feel nice against the skin. If I wear it at all, it will probably be with a camisole underneath. It's a bit too poly and not enough cotton for my liking. I bought a few metres in different prints from the same stall, but now that I know what the fabric feels like to wear, I'll probably only  use them for muslins. In this case, I got what I paid for.

~Not-lightweight-enough interfacing. Well, this is a rookie mistake that I'm surprised I haven't made already. I think the interfacing I used is too stiff, and the cute peter pan collar doesn't want to lay flat and be demure and elegant (it wants to be wings, and flap about and maybe fly). It's for this reason alone that the blouse fails.

~The buttons are pretty meh,  but this is because I realised this blouse was never going to be, so I just chose whatever I had 7 of in my button box to check that the fit was right.

~I'm not so sure about the leopard print on me. I love animal prints on other people, but I don't own a single such item of clothing or accessory - is this because it isn't really me?

~And last, but not least, this:
Holy mangled buttonholes, Batman!
My sewing machine has an automatic buttonhole function (hooray!), but it totally mangled the top buttonhole (the last one I did). Maybe this is because of the too-heavy interfacing? I could try to save this with some hand stitching. But time would be better spent making up another version in a nicer fabric.

That said, why then is this the Top of Significant Achievement? Three words:

Small. Bust. Adjustment.  

Ever since I started sewing clothes, I knew that sooner or later I would have to learn how to make an SBA (especially if I wanted to enjoy Colette patterns). And while there seems to be a lot of help out there for FBAs, I couldn't find much to help those of a more modest bosom. Or at least I couldn't find much that I could get my head around.

My first attempt was so baggy and shapeless in the bust that I very nearly gave up on the pattern altogether - it just seemed too much work and I didn't know where to start. So I hit the books and found the answer in Perfect Fit: A Practical Guide to Adjusting Sewing Patterns for a Professional Finish (available via Amazon). This book is great - lots of photos showing what the fitting problems are, and guidance on how to make both a minor fix and a major adjustment to the pattern pieces. The photos are a bit 90s, but I found the book really helpful. (Megan Nielsen also recently covered a similar process for SBAs on her blog.)

the adjusted pattern piece over the original size 0 front piece
For my Violet, I cut a size 0, merging to 2 at the hips, and made a -1/2" SBA. I added 2" length at the hem. I think the fit is pretty spot on at the front. There's still a bit too much bagginess in the back - so next time, I'll make some changes to the bodice back pattern to eliminate some of that.
Now that I understand and can successfully make an SBA, I feel I've advanced a level in my sewing abilities. I'm pretty thrilled about it.

Other reasons I'm pleased
  • Buttonholes. These are my first buttonholes, and with the exception of the mangled one, they weren't the disaster I expected. The automatic buttonhole feature on my sewing machine is a big help!
  • Piping. I have piped. Yippee! The piping was part of a goodie bag of treats from Claire and Zoe, who hosted the Brighton blogger meet-and-swap. I've never piped before, and after seeing Winnie's perfect pink elephants Violet, I really wanted to try it out. I might be hooked - I love the effect.
  • Collar and placket. I hadn't made either of these before.

I'm not sure what's causing the diagonal creases - could it be that the interfacing of the placket is too stiff, and so is pulling the lightweight fabric? Or did I make too much of an SBA?

Thoughts on the Violet
I like it. And I definitely want to make it again in a nicer fabric. What I don't like are the facings. I know the problem with this particular make is that the interfacing is too stiff, and it all feels a bit cardboardy. But in general, I am not a fan of facings. I have the Banksia pattern (cut out in similar fabric, and oops, the same interfacing was used - d'oh!), which uses bias binding to finish the collar seams - if this works well for me, I might adopt it for future Violets. Also, as mentioned, I'd like to take a bit of the extra roominess out of the back. Only a bit though, as I like the looser fit of this blouse.

Question about interfacing
So tell me, do you use fusible interfacing? Or sew-in? Or do you use something else (lightweight muslin, for example)?

How much?!
I'm certain you'll have read Tilly's thought-provoking post on the real cost of sewing. Since I've started sewing, I've found I no longer buy as many clothes as I did before: a combination of "I could probably make that myself" attitude, and an increased awareness of low quality fabrics and finish has made me think twice about buying in the high street. Unfortunately, I doubt I've saved a huge amount of money, because I do like to buy lovely (and unfortunately not-so-inexpensive) fabrics (Liberty, I'm talking to you), and I tend to buy more fabric than I've actually used so far.

I'm going to start summing up the approximate cost of each make. I don't think it's worth it this time, as I've decided (for the purpose of costs) to chalk this one up as a muslin, so I'll do the sums when I finish the "final" version, taking into account the cost of materials for this one.

speak soon!

11 April 2012

Me Made May 2012

Here goes....

I, Shivani of pins&needles, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May'12. I endeavour to wear a me-made garment at least three days a week for the duration of May 2012.

I've watched quite a few me-made challenges from the sidelines, and each time I've thought to myself "next time, I'll do it". I know I don't have enough me-mades to make a whole month interesting for me. But, I reckon I could do at least three days a week. I also have a few things on the sewing table, so this challenge is motivation to get sewing and finish them off!

speak soon! x

1 April 2012

FO: Wiksten Tank

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Tova shirt by Wiksten. I also love the Tank pattern, and last week whipped up a few to take on a mini-break to Seville!

I made three - one for each day of the trip, but sadly it was too cold and rainy on the last day to wear the final one, so I'll post separately about that one when I get around to taking photos of it.

I made them all using one metre each of Liberty lawn - it isn't too much of a squeeze to get the tank (with an additional 1.5" length) and the bias strips for the neck and armholes, plus have some nice scraps left over if you're collecting Liberty scraps for a quilt (like I am)!

The first one is modelled in the fragrant gardens of the Real Alcázar in Seville (orange blossom and wisteria everywhere - too too lovely!). The print is called "Melly" (shade C), and has a paint splatter effect in hot pink, orange, yellow, purple and black. It's all kinds of wonderful.
This one shows the shape of the tank a bit better (sadly the photos are all a bit over-exposed). There's a little bit of crinkling at the arm-opening - I'm hoping a good pressing will sort that out, but I might have to unpick and re-do that bit. This print is called "Flowery Meadow" and is from the SS 2011 collection. Here's a close-up:
designed by 8 year old Amber Kelly, because she liked the word "meadow"
I cut a small merging to medium at the hips, and added 1.5" length. The pattern comes in top and dress lengths - I made the top (for reference, I'm 5'10").

I love this pattern. I could (and might yet) make a dozen. The pattern takes no time at all to make up (I had a bit of production line going) and the resulting top is so very comfortable. As with the Tova, the Tank is now also available to download, and I definitely recommend it if you're in the market for a flattering, loose-fitting woven tank.

I'm on hols until after Easter. Hurrah - staycation = sewcation!

speak soon!