Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter Whites - non-baggy White pants

Now that I have figured out how to make my pants not baggy at the back, I decided to draft a very fitted, elastic waist pants pattern from my newly tweaked Simplicity 1696 pattern. I took in the back thigh in more drastically and narrowed the pant leg below the knees. To make the muslin, I decided to use this white uncut corduroy fabric that I bought pre-kids. I bought it 8 years ago to make 'winter white' pants but never got around to it. It is a great fabric with about 1-2% stretch. I thought it would be a great weight for the muslin for future chinos or other corduroy pants.

So after a couple of days of sewing, seam ripping, pinning, unpinning, drafting, etc., I came up with this pattern:
I added back pockets to the pants too.
And I got this somewhat wearable muslin. I never tuck in my clothes but here is the unsightly tucked-in version to show the elastic waist area:
I had to make provisions for the lumps and bumps in the hip area.

And here is how I will actually wear them - untucked:

And this is how I will be wearing it tomorrow in an attempt to keep the winter white from the dirty snow and splashes on the streets:

Hopefully it doesn't get dirty the first day I wear this! I can't wait to make more fitted pants like this with other stash fabrics. So happy with my non-baggy pants pattern!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What to do with a Mountain of scraps - Patchwork clothing!

I had been looking at my mountain of fabric scraps: each piece too small to even make a skirt or a sleeveless top. What could I do with them without throwing them out and thus contribute to the landfill? My answer: Patchwork clothing!

I looked through Pinterest for inspirations. There are some really cool patchwork ideas for jackets, dresses, pants and skirts:
H&M patchwork jacket - how awesome and fun it would be to wear this to work!
A Steampunk patchwork skirt
This is lovely and so boho - but unfortunately not age appropriate for me....
This is really lovely and unique and I LOVE sweater dresses!
These patchwork clothing are truly inspirational. I now need to go to my scrap box and refashion pile to see what I have to start my patchwork project.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Simple Refashion: A black boucle sheath dress

A simple refashion to start the new year. I thrifted this well-made, black metallic wool blend sheath dress last year. It fits except the shoulder straps were too long (they fell off my shoulders as soon as I started walking) and it was too long (too matronly on me).
I need to clean the lens of the camera!

I opened the shoulder seams and cut off about 2cm to shorten the shoulder straps. Then I cut off the hem just above the thigh slit and rehemed the dress.  It took less than an hour. I think it looks a bit better now:
I really really need to clean the lens of the camera!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MAGAM January Office Trousers finished!

It took a lot of sweat and little bit of tears to get to the finished product. I don't know how many times I have ripped out the seams and resewn the seams of both the muslin and the final product. It was mentally exhausting!

Changing the pants from zip front to elastic was the easiest bit. Changing the bum and leg on the pattern was much more challenging. Before I started cutting into the muslin, I searched through the web for tutorials on how to alter the pants pattern for different lumps and bumps for my body. The surprising thing was that, the most useful sites for my body shape were the ones that weren't in English - one in Spanish and one in Russian. I'm not a Spanish nor a Russian speaker! Thank goodness for Google Translate. I was able to figure out what to do.

The pattern comes in Slim, Average and Curvy versions. I cut a size 14 Slim first. I figured that I would try the Slim version first and if that failed, then I would try the Average version.

As I was testing out the muslin, I also discovered more important info about my body shape for future alteration purposes. I apparently have normal size front thighs but thinner back thighs. I have to drastically reduce the back thigh width of the back pattern. I did that by making a big pleat from the bottom of the bum all the way down to the hem of the pants. That is exactly why pants (RTW and previous self-made ones) often have too much bagginess under the bum.

And my back crotch curve is almost a 90 degree angle. Who knew?

Also, I realized that I will have more than 1 pants pattern for non-stretch woven material. The Office trousers will have more ease than the cotton chinos. So I'll have to make another muslin from this pattern for much more fitted pants like chinos.

So here is the final product from different angles:

side back

These are the least baggy non-stretch woven trousers that I have ever owned (RTW or self-made). Of course my stretch woven skinny jeans/knit pants are much more fitted but I have too much non-stretch wool blend fabrics in my stash that I need to use.

Now that I have figured out the bum and upper thigh situation with these tapered pants, I can just change the pant leg width from the knee down to make straight leg pants and boot cut pants. May be one day I'll change the elastic waistband back to a zip front waistband!

The review of the pattern is on PatternReview.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Wardrobe Cleanse - Goodbye self-made clothes!

I had not forgotten my rant late last year about the ridiculous amount of clothes I have in my wardrobe.  So last month I went through my wardrobe item by item, and took out the things that just weren't quite right. Many of them were self-made or self-refashioned clothing. I took pictures of the ones I really liked and then I put them into a big bag for donation. These are some of the items that are in the bag:

Refashioned Art Silk sari shirt - This is one of the first refashioning projects I did. I thrifted a length of art silk (faux silk) sari from a market in the UK and sewed a shirt with it. I used the gilded portion of the sari to make the cuffs and the covered buttons. I loved and wore it often and got loads of compliments for it. Alas, it just never fit right after having kids. It's too short and too tight around the chest. Too bad.....

Cotton gauze tunic - I made this very thin cotton gauze tunic from a Prima UK magazine pattern from 2001 (I think?). I loved it but it was a hassle to wear it because it's really almost transparent even with a white camisole under it. Not particularly practical to wear especially with kids.

Faux wrap knit top - I made 3 tops from the same New Look 6729 in different coloured knits. This is my least favourite. The fit is fine but the brownish pattern looks awful for my skin tone. It makes me look a bit dirty. So bye bye!

 Quilted Cotton shirt - I got this pinkish/salmon coloured quilted cotton off cuts from the cheapy bin and made a button down shirt with Butterick 4609. I quite like it but it's tight at the bust unfortunately. I should just do an FBA on the pattern and make some new shirts.

 2 Wool blend A-line skirts - I made 2 skirts for work with Simplicity 8550. They were well used before I had kids but now they fit strangely around the abdomen. Too bad! They were good quality wool too....

White linen drawstring shorts - I made these with the tried and true Butterick 5044. But white, see-through linen shorts with kids? Not a good idea really....

Silk floral top - I thrifted this silk floral dress that was too long and loose on me. I refashioned it into a dress that fit me. Then a year later I cut it off even more to make a top. However, every time I wore it, my hubby would comment on how matronly it looked on me. So bye!

Wool suit jacket - I made this Vogue 8137 jacket with a beautiful blue green tropical wool fabric. It's now too short and too tight around the chest. Also, the neckline is not flattering for my short neck. I could refashion it but I thought perhaps someone else can benefit from a fairly well-made wool blend jacket when I donate it. I also made matching straight leg pants that I am keeping.

So these are some of the items that I am donating. This is my little goodbye to each of the items. I hope they will go to a good home.....:-(

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Sewing Goals

Well, they are more like guidelines than goals. I have just a few simple sewing goals for this new year:

1. Learn something new - whether it's a new technique, sewing a new kind of fabric, new type of garment, etc.
2. Continue to use up my monstrous stash of fabrics and patterns. Don't buy anything new unless I absolutely have to (e.g. zippers, threads, buttons, etc).
3. Continue to use up my to-be-refashioned stash. I have 2 big garbage bags worth of stuff waiting to be refashioned!
4. Continue the wardrobe stash cleanse.
5. Do a pattern cleanse. I really have too many patterns in my stash. I think I'll need to get rid of half of them this year somehow.
6. Try to sew more for other people (whether as gifts or for charity, etc).

That's all! Should be easy to achieve them, right? ;-)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

MAGAM January Project Plan - Office Wear

The January theme for Make A Garment A Month is 'Jump into January'.  I thought perhaps I should update my office wear. All my office wear were made or purchased before I had children. Unfortunately my body has changed dramatically since having 2 kids. Some of the office wear garments are looking quite ill-fitting. I figured that it was time to make some new and better fitting office wear this year.

I have loads of stash patterns and stash office appropriate fabrics so I won't need to buy anything new. The first item I want to make is a pair of elastic waist office trousers. What? Elastic waist? Yes Elastic waist. My weight fluctuates quite a bit during the monthly cycle and all the changes happen at my midriff. Also, I tend to gain weight in the cooler months and lose weight in the warmer months. Again all these changes happen at my waistline. So it really makes sense for me to make elastic waist woven trousers.

My challenge was to find a pattern that can accommodate the following:
  • a large waistline
  • bulging lower abdomen
  • wide but flat and lumpy derriere
I settled on my stash pattern Simplicity 1696. It seems to have a lot of options to change the fit of the trousers which I'm sure I'll need. I am expecting to have to make lots of adjustment due to my body shape as well as having to make these trousers from a pattern of a pair of zip-front trousers with a contour waistband, to a pair of elastic-waisted trousers.
As for the fabric, I have lots of small pieces of tropical wool fabrics that I bought a few years ago when a local fabric shop closed down. Tropical wool is one of my favourite type of fabric for office wear as one can practically wear it all year round. I have just enough to make these pants with this small piece of fabric:

I have some remnant sheet that I can use to make a muslin. The trouble is I don't really know how non-stretch woven trousers are supposed to fit on me. I have learned how to fit myself with stretch woven pants or stretch jeans but not non-stretch woven ones. This should be a good learning experience!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year and the Top 10 projects of 2015

Happy New Year! I can't believe another year has passed by. Time seems to fly by quicker and quicker as I get older!

Here are my picks for my Top 10 Sewing/Refashioning projects for 2015.

1. Refashioned Denim Jacket - I made this jacket with a pair of hubby's old 'holey' jeans and a thrifted cotton sarong. I used Simplicity 1688 for this jacket. I was really happy with this because I had to really work hard to get enough fabric from the men's jeans for the panels of this jacket. It even has the 'holey' bits to make the jacket authentic and 'charming'!

2. Refashioned Leather Jacket - This beautifully soft thrifted leather jacket didn't fit me because of my short waist and sway back. I took the plunge and picked out the waist seam, cut off part of the top half and part of the bottom half at the waist and sewed it back together. And voila! It fit! It was my first time sewing with leather and I was quite happy with the result. The before and after:
3. Copy Cat Strapless Peplum Gown - My friend asked me to make a copy cat version of an actress' gown for her. I enjoyed the challenge to figure out what material to use and what existing stash pattern I can use for this gown. I chose Simplicity 8764 and made a proof of concept gown for myself. Then my friend picked a tangerine Ponte Knit for her final garment. It was a good learning experience copying a gown and sewing for someone else outside the family. Here is the inspiration, the proof of concept and the final result:

4. A Princess Dress for my birthday girl - I had never sewn a princess dress for any child before. I was happy to take on the challenge when my daughter asked me to make her a 'pink shiny princess dress' for her birthday. I used a stash thrifted pattern New Look 6579, stash metallic pink denim and stash orange broadcloth for the lining. Both my daughter and I were thrilled with the result:

5. Refashioned Beaded Bolero Jacket - I thrifted this too small beaded crop top with no clear ideas on what to do with it. Then the trusty seam ripper inspired me to rip out the centre back seam, took out the zipper, turn the top around and make it into a beaded bolero jacket! What fun!

6. Black linen jacket - I used a stash pattern (McCall 4928) and stash black linen fabric to make this little linen jacket for the summer. I was happy to have tested out this pattern. Now I can make more jackets (different fabrics, different sleeve lengths) with this tried and true pattern.

7. Refashioned Denim Bags for teachers - I had lots of little bits of denim scraps from refashioning men's jeans into garments. I didn't want to throw them into the garbage so I used them to make unique bags for my kids' teachers as end-of-school-year presents. I'm happy to have used most of the scraps that would otherwise have been thrown into the garbage.

8. Colour blocked swimsuit - I have always wanted a colour blocked swimsuit. So I used Kwik Sew 2792 as a base, and drafted the front, back and side panel patterns. Unfortunately the white swimwear fabric that I have in my stash was a little too translucent and there was excess fabric at my lower back. Nonetheless, I wore it to go swimming last summer.

 9. Refashioned Suede Skirt - I thrifted this too small suede skirt with the intention of making it into a purse. In the end I decided to just cut off the top 2 inches of the skirt where it was too tight for me, and bound the top edge with soft knit. Now I have a comfortable, slightly on-trend midi length suede skirt to wear this Fall/Winter/Spring.

10. Keepsake Boxes for Kids - I thrifted 2 wooden boxes and transformed them into keepsake boxes with my kids`favourite characters on them. They were well received by the kids on X`mas day! The before and after:

So that was my top 10 list for the past year. Looking forward to more sewing/refashioning/crafting projects in 2016!