Thursday, February 27, 2014

Smells like spring...

What with all the snow and cold temps that North America has gotten in the past weeks, and the downpour that has haunted GB, I feel a bit self conscious saying that here in Berlin, we've been enjoying lovely spring weather for the past month. I'm not kidding, we've been surfing along with 8-12°C and nary a day of rain for the past four weeks. Lot's of sunshine, too. It's pretty much unprecedented. Berlin usually is a cloudy sinkhole all winter. Anyway, I'm not complaining. Apart from the fact that I didn't get to even half of my winter sewing projects before spring turned up again. But who cares. I'm lusting for spring sewing. Sunshine!

This skirt could be called winter sewing, if I cared to present it with wooly tights and a sweater, I guess. It has actually been cut out since before Christmas. Paired with nude tights, knee socks and this striped raglan top that I sewed in December, it makes for a decent spring outfit, too (and fits well into my spring&autumn wardrobe preferences). 
It's Simplicity 2451, of course. After last year's green version (in size 16, because I wanted it to sit on my hips) turned out way too big, possibly because my corduroy had some stretch that I didn't account for, I re-cut this version, which is a 12 in front and a 16 in the back (for reasons), and I used some absolutely stable woven interfacing for the waistband. I really love the way this version sits, even though the tulip shape kind of accentuates my hips. But oh well.
The lining is a blue&white polka-dot rayon from Italy (Verona, to be exact) and the skirt hem was done by turning it up once and hand-stitching on a polka-dot lace ribbon. Yay, polka dots!
I like the fit of this one so well, I'm almost thinking about disassembling the green version and re-cutting it to this size. It would probably end in a disaster, though...

The top, btw, is one of my go-tos, the raglan sleeved Ottobre 5/2008-14. Version number four. I'm thinking that I like it even better than my regular-sleeved TNT jersey top pattern. Because raglan sleeves are awesome. :) I even did some (more or less successful) stripe matching.
Are you already thinking of spring sewing? Or is it still winter where you live? And what's currently on your sewing table? (I need to finish a green Lola, or two, before either going on to that Plantain that I've been meaning to make for Blue February, or starting on tracing the pattern for a polka-dot dress, or taping the Moss skirt... So many plans!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Selfless Sewing: A Men's Shirt

Oh, hi there! Does anyone know how it's already mid-February all of a sudden? I have to admit that my new work schedule, paired with gloomy winter weather and short daylight, have made me into a bit of a hybernating creature for the last few weeks. But we've had glorious sunlight for the last few days (and I guess I'm starting to cope with my schedule), so I've started to wake up again!

I haven't done a lot of stitching, but I'm working on a sock, I've had a skirt cut out forever that is finally in the process of being stitched together, and there are another couple of Lolas in the plans. (I'm still a bit reluctant and scared to get started on work clothes. Trousers! Collared shirts! Argh!)

Also, I've finished a commission!
Well, actually I made it into a birthday gift. Made from that pink&white fabric in the top right corner. Wanna guess?
Nope, not baby clothes. Actually, it made for a rather stylish men's shirt for my stepdad.
Though to be honest, we're now calling it a (wearable) muslin. Since my stepdad lives 700km away from me, fitting was pretty much out of the question, so instead of taking his measurements, I traced one of his shirts that fits him rather well and took my measurements from that. At some point, I must have added a double seam allowance, though, because the new shirt turned out rather big, and the sleeves are almost ridiculously long...
He also chose the pattern for the shirt himself, it's Burda 7359, but we both overlooked that it doesn't have a proper collar with a collar stand (even though the model on the front wears a tie with it!), instead it features a rather huge and pointy one-piece collar that kinda reminds me of the seventies... or as my stepdad said, a pyjama. Oh well. At least it matches the oversized cuffs.
To make matters worse, I asked the lady at the fabric section of our local department store to recommend a good fusible interfacing for the collar of a men's shirt, but I think she had no idea since what she recommended feels both too thick and not stable enough, a bit spongy instead of crisp. I'm guessing it's more suited to thicker fabrics. Next time I'm going to the fabric store to buy interfacing, even if the department store is more convenient to reach...

There are quite a few things that I'm very happy with, though. I think the sleeve placket turned out exceptionally well, especially since I mostly just followed the Burda pattern instructions.
For the myrad of button holes, I didn't use my regular machine (the all-metal Privileg Super-Nutzstich from the 80s that I inherited from my great-grandma). Instead, I used the computerized but rather cheap AEG machine that I bought when I started sewing, because I realized that it has 5 different automatic buttonhole programmes! Also, you just put your button into the little button compartment of the buttonhole foot, and it matches the buttonholes to the size of the button. No eyeballing! I'm very glad I remembered that. Overall, it's a pretty cheap and crappy machine, it hates knits and heavy fabric / lots of layers, but it makes really nice buttonholes. Yay!
I actually wanted a white contrast band for the button placket as well, but I didn't understand the pattern well enough. What I did instead was add a contrast facing. Oh well.

I have now re-measured the finished shirt and the shirt I used for taking measurements, so I will be able to fix the fit for the next shirt iteration (incidentally, in the patterned blue fabric above). I'll also need to draft a regular collar - does anyone have a tip for a good tutorial for that?

So I'm hoping now that I got most of the stupid mistakes for sewing a shirt out of my system. Any tips on what I should look out for in the next iteration?

Happy Sewing!