The ginseng of the poor man

In an attempt to mitigate some of the effects of my party life (yeah, I work too much and don’t compensate with sleep – what did you think I was talking about??) I have taken to a routine of drinking the juice of half a lemon with some honey in hot water first thing in the morning. To be honest, the life-changing effects haven’t yet materialised, but I am hopeful. So much so that I told an asian colleague of mine about it. Who replied she’s doing “the ginger thing, because ginger is the ginseng of the poor man”. Maybe I should add some ginger?

Enter stage right: Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files.

Now, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last year, you’ll have read/heard about these. I have yet to come about a single instance where somebody reports they could not make them work for them – if you know of such a case, I’d be super curious to hear/read about it! Do leave me a comment 🙂

I purchased the pattern … well, I don’t remember. Fairly soon after it was released, I suppose. I proceeded to cut them out. And then promptly lost all will to actually sew them. So the pile lingered in my sewing room. And lingered. And then it started to talk dirty to me, so it was banished into the wardrobe that holds the scraps.

Eventually, however, a week off came around, and I pulled the pile out. It was sufficiently humbled by it’s time in the quiet corner, so we agreed it was now time to get to work.

Ginger jeans - halfway there
Ginger jeans – halfway there

Oldbies amongst you may remember that I made a few jeans before, and had good success with Jalie 2908. I loved those jeans, despite a few flaws (like a gaping fly … ). But hey – they had purple top stitching! That’s gotta count for something, no? Anyways, I lost weight and at some point just had to admit that they weren’t good enough to keep with flaws *and* ill fit. So out they went.

Ever since, I wanted to make another (few) pair(s). However, as it sometimes goes – I was too lazy to trace them off in a couple of sizes smaller. Then the Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files came along. Everybody was making them, everybody was raving about  how great the pattern was, and I thought, hey, maybe it’s time to branch out. Also, for some reason I find tracing a pattern not so cumbersome if it’s one I haven’t done before. Me vs. logic: 1 – 0 .

For these jeans, I used a really weird flocked denim that I purchased in my all-time favourite shop fabricland in Brighton. It’s been lurking in my stash for a good while, and if memory serves I bought it because it was a) really weird and b) really cheap. Perfect for a new jeans pattern, which may or may not turn out wearable!

Weird flocked denim
Weird flocked denim

At the time I’d cut the jeans, I sewed the rest of it up as yet another Moss skirt, which unexpectedly has turned into one of my favourites, tho. So I was really hoping for the jeans to work out (spoiler alert – they did!).

Flocked denim moss skirt
Flocked denim moss skirt

So, back to the matter at hand 😀 Ginger jeans. I cut a straight size 10, no changes, for the low rise skinny version. In the end, I shaved off 1/4 inch on both inside and side seams to take them in a tad, but that was it.

The instructions have you prepare all pieces that need interfacing, folding, pressing, etc first thing – which I found very clever. By the time you actually need those belt loops, you’ll be very happy to just have them handy, trust me 🙂

Then you proceed to put the front together – while the pocket construction is similar to the Jalie ones, the inner pocket is cut from one piece rather than two, which I liked. What I’m not sure about and may change for the next round is that the right side of the pocket fabric ends up on the outside of the pocket – so any sneak peek into your pocket will show the wrong side, which may be disappointing if you went for a lovely print (I didn’t, I used some rather unremarkable scrap).

Inside, pockets, waistband facing
Inside, pockets, waistband facing

As you can see, I did not do proper flat felled seams, I just finished them with a zigzag stitch and double top stitched in normal thread. Not only would the fabric obscure anything more elaborate, at this point I wasn’t sure they’d fit me and wanted to cut down on sewing time.

The zipper insertion is well explained and worked out marvelously – if you need more, there’s a sew along you can follow. I found the instructions more than sufficient to guide me, tho.

Fly zip
Fly zip

When it came time to put the back together, I vaguely remembered seeing some complaints that the back pockets were a tad close together – I may totally have made that up … anyways, it turned out that I either had forgotten to transfer the markings for the back pockets to my fabric pieces, or maybe they’d rubbed off during their time in the quiet corner, so I grabbed an RTW jeans and just copied the pocket placement over. Ta-da.

Back pockets
Back pockets

I’m afraid it’s rather impossible to actually see much with this busy fabric, but I hope you get the idea 🙂 And that cleverly placed clothespin, I hear you ask? Just another small change I made to have two belt loops in the center back instead of one – my rather pronounced sway back needs some extra pulling powers to keep waistbands close to my skin 😉

Extra fuzzy back shot
Extra fuzzy back shot

Speaking of – the curved waistband does work a treat in that area. I still need a belt, but there’s no gaping to speak of – amazing, really! This was also the only area I strayed from the instructions – ever since I learned the Jalie way of attaching a waistband, that’s been what I do. So much easier, and great results pretty much every time.

Ginger Jeans - finished
Ginger Jeans – finished

That’s the gist with my Gingers. As it happens, there are a few other stretch denims in my stash earmarked for more of these – I could also use another pair of boot cut jeans, really, and I may or may not have ordered some stretch twill with a leopard print to remake my Temperley knock off jeans … they were always a tad on thebig  side side, and had to be thrown out after my weight loss 😦

Again, this turned out a bit more rambly than planned, but hey, I’ve got to use all those words I saved while not blogging, no??

 

Today’s the day

I am not going to bore you with a lengthy list of reasons why I didn’t blog for so long. Let’s just say it didn’t happen and move on, shall we?

Obviously, I didn’t stop making things … maybe not at a high frequency, but there were quite a few good ones in there. The Alabama Chanin skirt was finished, and turned out rather lovely – since I’m still planning (ya, I know, fall and spring are kinda over, but I’m sure they’ll come back!) to go ahead with the coat, I’ll save that for a separate post.

Some Linden tops were made – much love, in particular to my black merino version – no photo, sorry. My crappy camera packed it in and is now in the lands of everlasting perfect exposure.

A proper highlight was another Archer from gray chambray – fully flat felled and all. There shall be photos in the future (see above).

Onward and upwards – for now, with less-than-perfect iPhone shots. Go me – revive the blog with blurry fuzz. That’s how the pros do it 😀

In the recent past there was an effort to level up my summer wardrobe – down here, spring lasts about two ticks, and we’re getting to the tail end of it (the weather started properly improving a couple of days ago). The Hannah top by Salme patterns had caught my eye – I’m rather partial to the exposed shoulder design.

But alas, my first muslin was a catastrophe. The neck too tight. The shoulders too small. The back limiting. And let’s not talk about the stretch lines over my bust … honestly, I wasn’t even sure it’s worth fiddling with the fit. But I’m off this week, and I kinda like a mild mental challenge with my 2nd cuppa in the morning, so fiddle I did.

Hannah changes front
Hannah changes front

Changes to the front:

  • Shorten upper bodice by 1 inch
  • Add 1/2 inch to the neckline
  • Add 1/2 inch to the shoulder seam
  • Add 1 inch tapering to nothing at the hem to the body
  • move bust dart point to accommodate added width
  • move bust dart up 1 inch
Hannah changes back
Hannah changes back

Changes to the back:

  • same neck and shoulder additions as to the front
  • same body adjustments
  • redraw armscye
  • lowered back neck by 1/2 inch

Now, if this looks like I a) knew what I was doing or b) had a good plan – that’s a no to both. I kinda randomly added space where I thought it was needed, and changed a few lines to keep the general design vibe.

Good news – my totally slap-dash approach worked (mostly) and I got a very wearable top out of it, which I have plans to make a few more times – next one in a black broderie anglaise, fully lined with some light silk I have.

I was going to leave you without a photo, but what the heck – if you’re actually still here, you deserve all my crappy-and-no-make-up iPhone shots! Enjoy.

Hannah muslin
Hannah – finally wearable muslin no. 3.

This sadly highlighted the absence of a good racerback bra in my drawer, tho – oh, didn’t I mention I also made two bras? They’re both not perfect, but the fit was good enough (read: better than any RTW I currently own) that I intend to persist on that path …

Now this post feels like meeting a long absent friend again, when you just want to talk about the most recent things in your life but find yourself blabbering on about the 500 other things that led to the current situation 😀

Because what I really wanted to tell you about were the jeans you can see in the photo above, and which I don’t plan to wear with this top (but with a black one – oh la la). Ginger jeans. The internets are right, ’tis an awesome pattern. Which I’ll tell you all about in a future post – if you can’t wait (and I wouldn’t blame you, heaven only knows when that will be), there are links to instagram in the side bar.

Belcarra

Today I did another wardrobe clean out. I’ve done a few of these over the last couple of weeks – a lot of my clothes don’t fit me any longer because I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, and some others I’m just over.

All those geeky t-shirts? Still there, but probably they will be worn around the house more and less in public going forward. Although I stand by what I said to a friend recently – I doubt I’ll ever dress “age appropriately”. So all bets are off concerning these t-shirts …

Anyways, point in question – I need some easy basics to fill those gaps. To address this need, I decided to give my first Sewaholic pattern a try: the Belcarra blouse.

Because my relationship with woven tops is a little tense at the best of times, I went for a muslin and used  the last bit of my toile de jolie for it, leftover from this Archer.

It went mostly okay … but after I’d hacked off a good 2 inches from the length, the flare was more a peplum.

Belcarra toile back
Belcarra toile back

And there’s neckline gaping. Which, after carefully inspecting the shop photos for this, I suspect may be a pattern issue as much as one of my lacking skills.

Belcarra toile front
Belcarra toile front

So I shortened the pattern pieces along the proper lines, trued up the side seams and proceeded to make one more out of a lovely remnant I bought during  a recent visit to Brighton, in the totally adorable shop Ditto. If you ever are around there you should totally go – just not on one of the first sunny Saturdays while the Fringe Festival is on. It was madness.

Anyways, the second one came out better, although there’s still some gaping in the neck line and I might have made it a tad too short now – you can see the no longer huge but still present testament to my genetically inherited love for beer peek out here.

Belcarra fo' realz
Belcarra fo’ realz

The matter isn’t helped by the jeans I’ve shrunk out of to the point where the belt just barely keeps them on my hips …

I made my own bias, following some handy tutorials about how to do just that by using the ironing board and a sewing pin, like this one from Coletterie. Which was surprisingly easy and even, dare I say it, a little bit fun 😀

The pattern itself is alright, I’m still on the fence as to whether I’ll make more of these, but maybe I just need to wear them a few more times. I suspect that a life time of wearing mostly stretch tops may mean it’ll take a while for me to get used to wovens.

 

Trifecta (again) and Vogue 1247

And finally I started to get photos of my work wear.

Today, it was one of the recently made Trifecta tops (the colleague taking the photos told me it’s her favourite from the batch, btw) and a make from some time ago, the ubiquitous Vogue 1247.

That skirt was made from a left over piece of black denim I used to make another Jalie Jeans (which hopefully you’ll get to see soon, too).

trifecta and v1247
trifecta and v1247 – and of course a derp face again. It’s becoming a bit of a speciality of mine, non?

This skirt probably was the single most worn item I made last year. This was actually the second one I made – the first one is a more dressy fabric (which in fact is curtain fabric I acquired during a sailing trip to Ceuta – I know, my hard life …) and hence sees a little less wear. But it still is a staple for semi-formal family dinners and such.

I have another Trifecta cut with those same fabrics, just reversed – patterned body and black sleeves. The fabrics are both pretty awesome.

The patterned one is from Minervacrafts, and it’s buttery soft and a real delight to wear. Sewing is a bit tricky, as is usual with that kind of light jersey, but totally worth the hassle.

The black fabric came all the way from the US – and yes, it was rather expensive with shipping and taxes and whatnot, but I love it nonetheless. It’s an organic cotton jersey from fabric.com – looks like it’s sold out in black, but I’ve linked to the array of colours which are listed on their website.  The only problem with it is that it’s a proper cat hair magnet :/

Speaking of which – here’s helper cat approving of the shipping box from said fabric (there was a lot more in there, which gradually is going to be revealed here as I turn it into wearable things 😉

Helper cat
Helper cat

Also, there was a bit of a story around that fabric delivery – being a working woman, I had to schedule a date and time for the delivery to be made so I’d be home to actually take it (taxes to pay, remember?). That all went fine, except that the delivery guy didn’t have change on him. Now I live in a suburb with very little in the terms of shops or businesses (a pub and supermarket 5 mins on foot away is pretty much it). So just going somewhere to get change is tricky.

In the end, I told him to keep it (13 Euros) and consider it a rather huge tip. He, however, didn’t like that – the next day, I found this in my mailbox:

Thx Juan!
Thx Juan!

Isn’t that nice? Totally made my day.

 

 

Trifecta in triples (actually quadruples …)

The plan for my next few posts was to catch up on things I’ve made in my silent phase – well, that would of course mean I get photos. Now, my cunning plan was to just ask a nice colleague to take some at work when I’m wearing my makes (which I very frequently do, and in fact my Anna no.2 got me the unparalleled number of 9 compliments in a day), however that hasn’t happened yet.

Instead I give you (most of) the output of an afternoon of t-shirt making. Summer is coming early around here – in fact, today we had 26C and at times I was sewing in my bra. Admittedly not because of the heat, it was laziness but it was warm enough in my sun-flooded sewing room to get away with it.

Anyways. My friend Kim suggested I try the Trifecta top by KitschyCoo. Words like “best thing ever” may or may not have been uttered. So I got my own copy, and today spent a couple of hours taping, tracing, cutting and sewing.

In the end, I made 4 and have another 2 sitting all cut out and ready to go in my sewing room. Yup, it’s that great a staple.

No. One was made with some leftovers from a previous Laurel dress and some black double knit that was languishing in my stash, waiting for that perfect opportunity (I thought that it would become a Lady Skater … maybe some other time).

Trifecta One
Trifecta One

Please forgive the totally unmade-up state of my face and hair … bra sewing and bank holiday is all I’m going to say.

Then I made another one, same Laurel left-over combined with cuts from a shirt I made a loooong time ago:

Trifecta Two
Trifecta Two – probably looking for apparitions here. That would explain the blurriness.

And then I made yet another one, which remains unphotographed – it’s pretty much like no. One, only the sleeves are comprised of patterned fabric tops and black bottoms. Use your imagination 😉

And then no. Three:

Trifecta Four
Trifecta Three. Could the apparition be in the other corner?

Now, this was a different beast.

While the previous three all went together like a dream – I didn’t even bother to change to a jersey needle! – this one was a tad fiddly. But then, it’s a mix from silk and organic cotton jersey, so considerably more flimsy. .

Hence the mild fuck up on the neck band, which is a tad gapey – maybe it’s going to get a bit better with a wash? But despite that – and I’m pretty sure I bought worse RTW shirts – it’s still pretty awesome. Oh, and I added the bottom band after a little incident in  hemming. Possibly caused by the fact that I couldn’t be arsed to look for my twin needle. But it’s all for the better in the end.

Anyways, this pattern is a winner! If you are looking for a quick to make and easily customisable (I didn’t even play with different neck lines yet!) make, this is your thing.

 

A playful archer.

Hello friends, long time no see.

A lot has happened around here – most notably my mother passed last year, mere weeks before Christmas, and at the same time my cat (remember Mickey? His name’s now Sir Meouwsalot.) got shot. We got through all of that okay, but priorities were not on the blog.

Now, however, life is mostly back to normal (as normal as it gets around here), and all that reminds me of those dark days is a patch of Sir M.’s fur which has grown back darker than the rest of him:

Sir M. and his black soul
Sir M. and his black soul

Initially I thought that was because the long fur on top of his coat hadn’t fully grown back, but have since learned that it’s actually a side effect of my Lordship having some siamese blood, and hence being of point colouration. In short, that’s a gene mutation which causes partial albinism, but it’s only expressed in the coldest parts of the body (legs, head, ears, tail) – or if they get shaved in winter and the fur grows back, it appears 😀 I’m sure after his next fur change he’ll be back to his old beautiful self, and he doesn’t seem to mind one single bit.

He’s actually pretty happy:

Sir M.
Sir M.

And his lady has moved in with us, too – meet Helga:

Helga
Helga

Lest you think this has turned into yet another crazy cat lady’s corner of the internet, fret not – I also made things. Many things, but mostly they’re un-photographed at this point.

But I’ll show you this one, just hot off the machine and still needing a wash and a press. It’s Grainline’s Archer shirt, in a toile de jolie I bought to make trousers from, but realized it was too lightweight for that. The patterning is also a bit sparse, so it was kinda hard to find anything to do with it, and I figured a (possibly wearable) muslin wouldn’t be the worst use.

Archer front
Archer front

I am STILL fighting with the camera, and it still wins … mildly overexposed front shot, both shots done indoors because … well, apparently it’s TOO DAMN BRIGHT outside (quote my camera).

Archer back
Archer back

I think the fit is pretty spot on – there’s some weirdness around the left sleeve cap, but since it’s only on one side, I assume I’ve done something wrong setting the sleeve in. That being said, I might try to set my sleeves in the old-fashioned way again next time – I found setting them in flat rather fiddly.

Apart from that I can see more Archer’s in my future (did I ever mention that my star sign is Sagittarius?), and I’m over the moon to have a shirt pattern that actually fits me now … silk would be nice for this, non?

 

This is not a love song …

I finally made something other than a Laurel. The parade of Anna’s that’s currently marching through the blogosphere has put an idea into my head.

Maybe, just maybe this could be a dress for me? I adore the neck opening, and the high waist looked like it might work with my rather noticeable belly, I thought.

And since I’ve recently come to like dresses (it’s amazing what living a hectic life in a very hot climate can do to your style choices … just saying.), I thought it would be a good idea to branch out a little.

I had ca. 2m of black linen left from my first Laurel (bad photo here), and since I have since found out this linen isn’t the best of qualities (that Laurel ripped right next to the back arm scye), I thought it would be good to make a muslin which ideally would turn out wearable.

Now, let me tell you, I had grave doubts about that … anything that’s fitted in the bodice usually ends with me wanting to pull my hair out, wrap it around my sewing machine and throw the bundle out of the window.

This worked a bit better … after the usual zipper disaster. To begin with, I didn’t have a 22″ zip, invisible or not. I did have a black, invisible 18″ one … so I thought, what’s a few inches between friends, huh, and proceeded to put it in. Now, through no fault of the pattern or zip, I messed it up, and of course the linen being what it is, ended up with a hole right next to the zip. The only way forward was to cut it out, hence reducing the back width by roughly an inch. Then start over again. This time, I took the opportunity to finish the seam allowances in the back properly (Hong Kong style), and the zip went in fine. Fine, I say … not exactly invisible, but hey. It was a first.

Anna back
Anna back

Alas, after trying the dress on, it appeared that the strain of the too short zip (I can just barely squeeze into the dress) was too much for the linen, and it started to pull right underneath the zip. So I decided to make a feature out of it, and put on a bias cut square on top of that area, in the hopes it will add enough stability. We’ll see how that works out.

Other than that, I have the same issues I’d read about before … the neck line, which still looks adorable imho, gapes a bit. Should I make this again, I’d pinch out an inch or so front and back.

Anna front
Anna front – yes, horribly overexposed again.

There’s also some vicious wrinkling going on in weird places, but to be honest, that could just be the linen … it did the same thing when I used it for a tiny pocket tee.

It’s also a lot more see-through than I was aware. Good grief.

So, while I’m pleased that the dress mostly fits me well, this is not a love song 😀 But that’s mostly due to my poor choices, and no fault of the pattern. Which is adorable. Make one. You’ll see.