Thursday, 28 April 2011

Taking some pain out of cutting out!

Until recently I used to have to do all my cutting out on our kitchen table. This wasn’t ideal – our kitchen table is oval, so the fabric would flop off the corners and I had to keep running up and down the stairs to fetch stuff I needed from the bedroom, where I do my sewing. Also, I am an enthusiastic cook so cutting fine fabrics amongst the beef and red wine casserole or dark chocolate fudge cake was always high risk. Food stains on fabric – very frustrating!

What I really wanted, of course, is a Horn HiLo Hobby Table but have you seen the price - it’s £719 (about US $1,200) – yikes! Until I can afford one of these (note to self – buy a lottery ticket), I thought I would find myself something a little more reasonably priced. In the UK there don’t seem to be many other options for tables specifically marketed as sewing tables but a trawl around the internet found this on Amazon

It is sold as a trestle table for dining and cost me £49.99 (about US $83) plus £5.00 shipping. It is very sturdy. When open it measures about 72 x 30 inches, so that 60 inch fabric folded in half for cutting fits on it. It collapses down to only 4 inches wide so it can be stored underneath my bed.

I also bought, for about £10, a set of plastic risers which can easily be slipped under each of the legs to raise the height of the table by about 4 inches to reduce back strain. Cutting out is not my favourite part of the sewing process so I am really pleased to have found something that makes the job a bit easier. What about you – have you found yourself the perfect cutting out table or are you happy enough to use the living room floor?

Sitting on my cutting table at the moment is the pair of jeans that I mentioned, in my last post, that I was making. The photograph above gives you a sneak peak. Yes, they’re purple! I thought that if I am going to make myself a pair of jeans, why not be a little adventurous? This could be a mistake? We’ll have to see.

In the meantime, here in London, you may have heard that there is a wedding taking place. We are all gearing ourselves up for wedding hoopla and, of course, the big question is what will Kate’s dress look like? We have a holiday long weekend and London is full of bunting and souvenirs and party plans. I didn’t think I cared much but now I seem to have got the fever and am planning to glue myself to the television tomorrow!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Vogue skirt and what's been keeping me busy!

In case you think I have been slacking on the sewing front since I returned from vacation I am here to report that, actually, I have been quite the busy bee with sewing related activities. I am very pleased with my latest skirt.

It’s made from Vogue 2647, one of those wardrobe patterns, designed by Adri. It is now out of print but if you happen to come across it, I do think that it is worth taking a second look just for the skirt. This is the second time I have made it (you can see my first version in this post). I like the simplicity of the sleek, no-waistband, A-line style (which I think flatters most people) but it has some nice details.

The button and loop back closure above the invisible zipper

The front slit

The fabric is 100% cotton, called Artiste Tweed, purchased from Vogue Fabrics and I have used some thick buttonhole thread for the topstitching to complement the black of the tweedy colouring. I lined it with black bemberg rayon (my favourite kind of lining).

More sewing news from me is that I have signed up for Jennifer Stern’s online course, on Pattern Review, called Blue Print to Blue Jeans. This is my first venture into getting a jeans pattern to fit – not easy! So far I have made a couple of muslins which I am tinkering about with but more about this when I actually have something made.

In the meantime, while the course is progressing, I have also been working on Simplicity 2339 – the Amazing Fit shirt. I had forgotten how MUCH WORK there is in making a shirt. Collar and stand, front placket, setting in sleeves, buttonholes - all so tricksy to get just perfect.

So, I have got a lot of difficult stuff going on - I hope it’s going to be worth it!

In the meantime, A Very Happy Easter to you all!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Two tops from Burda Style magazine

I do like how Burda Style magazine has, over the years, produced some interesting patterns for fairly easy to make tops. For my vacation in Miami I picked out two that I thought would make useful beach cover-up tops. This one is taken from the July 2009 issue, pattern no. 109B

I was inspired by the magazine photograph.

Burda describe it as “cool and seductive” and I liked that it looked kind of loose and carefree. I was definitely right about it being loose but it isn’t quite as carefree as I wanted it – one false move and it is very revealing! Burda magazine patterns are funny like that. I find that, mostly, the folks at Burda tend to favour a tight fit but every now and then they completely throw you and draft something like this. I normally make a Burda size 40 but for this I made a size 36 and still it was HUGE. The only thing that stops it falling off me completely is that the back neck is stabilized with Vilene bias tape and, therefore, can’t stretch. This top is fine for the beach because I am wearing a bikini underneath it but, to be honest, the front is so low that I can’t see me wearing it in respectable society without risking embarrassment!

I think I will get a lot more wear out of this one, which is pattern no. 110A from the February 2011 issue of Burda Style

It is meant to be a shirt but as it is quite boxy I think it also works nicely as a shirt-jacket. It has a convertible collar and nice little ties at the end of the sleeves. Here how it looks in the magazine: I used a Liberty print cotton lawn (expensive but very nice!). I should also mention the buttons

which I purchased in my favourite UK button store, called Duttons for Buttons. It is a lovely old-fashioned shop with very helpful staff but as it is in Harrogate, which is about 200 miles from London, I don’t get there very often. However, it is nearer than my absolute favourite button store, Tender Buttons, which is in New York, about 3,500 miles from where I live! I think getting the right buttons is very important but it is surprising how difficult it can be. Sometimes in London I find myself going to half a dozen places until I find exactly what I want. How picky are you when it comes to buttons and do you have trouble finding the right buttons where you live?

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