Friday, October 17, 2014

2 x Fat Quarters + 1 Zip = ????

Why, lovely project bags of course:




They are just the perfect size for my yarn and needles for sock knitting, but I have also made them for family members who use them as washbags, makeup bags etc.




 They measure about 9" long x 4.5" x4.5".  I like to add a co-ordinating zip (it is a great way to use up odd zips that I don't know what else to do with!) and a zipper pull made with beads.




I absolutely love these - I have another (cough, cough) six cut out and ready to sew, and more than twenty (what??  How many??) matched up pairs of fat quarters and zips.  It's an addiction I tell you.  I can't help myself :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

McCalls 6361 - More Details

Thanks for the lovely comments on my last post about my trousers - and the weight loss!  Much appreciated. 

I have trialled a couple of pairs now, and have made a decision.  Basically, I am a rectangle in shape with little difference between my waist and hips.  I therefore do not have much gathering going on if I put elastic in a waist.  I also tend to wear cardigans or sweaters that cover my waist area rather than tucking in a shirt or top.  Therefore I plan to use fabric with a bit of stretch/lycra to make the fitted trousers (waistband, zip, fly etc), and woven fabrics to make the slightly looser fitting trousers with an elasticated waist.  I would probably do some top stitching to show a faux fly on the elasticated versions as well as adding some pockets.  Hmmmm.  Lots of food for thought!

Moving on . . . . . whilst I don't want to bore you too much, but there were a few changes that I made to the trousers pattern that may be of interest to you . . . .

Firstly, I extended the pockets so that they would be caught in the fly seams, thereby creating a 'powerband' that helps to keep the front of the pants stable.  The photo below shows a standard front pocket bag on the right, and my enlarged (I like big pockets!) and extended front pocket bag on the left.  The other part of the pocket bag does not need to be extended, just this part that forms part of the front of the trousers and is caught in the side seams.



 Secondly, because the zipper is placed as far over as it can be behind the fly, I didn't need to match the zipper tape to the fabric . . . which was just as well as only had bright coloured zips in my stash!



The above two photos also highlight the two different waistband treatments that I tried out.  For the grey trousers I attached the waistband and threaded through some 1" elastic as per Pants for Real People by Palmer/Pletsch.  When I am wearing the trousers you cannot see that there is any elastic there - they just fit a bit nicer around my waist.  The black pair have just a straight waistband with some interfacing.  I will see which ones are the most comfortable, and use that in the future. Oh, and can you see the lovely poppy fabric that I used for the pockets?  I think that may become my signature - lovely fabrics for the pockets.  Another great way to use up the cute fat quarters that I keep finding . . . .


Finally, I did try button holes, but got a little impatient - all that measuring, sewing, blah, blah, blah, so I used some cute snaps that I have about 300 of!  They are from a company called Babyville and were designed for baby clothes and nappies.  I have used them before when making wallets, and I love them.  They are plastic, come in lots of colours (except black!) and are fixed with a dandy instrument that looks a bit like a hand-held hole punch.  As long as your waistband is not too thick, they snap on really well and are very strong.  I have tried the more traditional snaps that hammer on, but I have never found them to be very effective - I find it hard to get them straight and matching, and if you hammer too hard the snaps actually cut through the fabric.  So, Babyville snaps it is for me for now.  I have no intention of flashing my waistband - I usually wear a top over my waistband, so no-one else know but myself!


I forgot to mention in my last post that finally, now that winter is almost upon us, we have a deck and railings and I can take photos outside.  I though it would be fun to share a quick photo of the set up - my camera precariously balanced on an iron table and my two helpers checking things out!



Thanks boys you were great!

Monday, October 13, 2014

McCalls 6361 - It's all Pants!

Having taken the Ron Collins class on pants/flies, I knew that I had to make up a pair as soon as possible and practice what I had learned.  With my local (only) fabric shop having a sale on McCalls patterns, I picked up a copy of 6361 - a basic ladies trousers pattern with a fly front.  Following advice from Threads Magazine about trouser fitting, I used size 18 (my hip measurement) and adjusted the crotch to match my TNT pattern that I have been using over the last year or so.  Having lost weight, I am finding that my 'me-made' clothes are not fitting very well, so I need to update my TNT's.


I made up a muslin that fitted OK-ish, and with a couple of minor alterations, I made up these bright red corduroy trousers.  The fabric was a 'hmm, that doesn't look like the colour on the website' when I ordered it a year or two ago, and it has sat festering in my stash ever since.  There is some lycra/spandex in it that gives it just the right amount of stretch.





I know, red is such a hard colour to photograph . . . . .   I can now see from these pics that I may need to make a slight adjustment in the small of my back as there is some puckering - a sway back adjustment perhaps?

I traced off the size 18 and then used my TNT crotch curves from previous trousers.  All in all, I pretty happy with these.

I then made three pairs of work pants - but in order to photograph them in daylight I didn't hem them, so please turn a blind eye to the bottoms.  I lost three inches to hemming!


C'mon, focus - take your eyes away from the hems and look at the rest of the trousers!!





As you can see - there is the same problem in the small of my back.  I'm actually wondering if I should let out the side dea,s a little.  I will need to check my fitting book.

And here are the last two pairs.  This fabric is a narrow pinstripe:



And finally in a soft mid grey fabric that I am now having second thoughts about.



I will take some more photos now that they have been hemmed - but that may not be for a few days, and I will be wearing the trousers to work before then.  I am mostly pleased with them - on the plus side I am thrilled that I have mastered the fly zips and pockets, but on the minus side I think that the legs are on the loose side, and the fit is a little snug around my hips.  I will wear them and see.  As I am still loosing weight, they will get looser over the next few weeks so it will be interesting to see how the fit changes.  I think that I may also try Style Arc Barb - although they are pull-ons, they are more tight fitting and I have a couple of other corduroys with lycra that I can use.  I can always add a zip if needed.

I will write a follow up post talking about the pockets, zips and closures as well as the waistband treatment - this post is getting rather long now!

All in all this is a great pattern - after a few adjustments, and I think I will make the skirt next as I am now hooked on fly zips!  I find these are quite labour intensive - probably about 3-4 hours each pair, but I think that the finished trousers look quite professional, and I do need to have quite a few pairs for work during the winter - all my lovely lined, pull-on trousers from last winter are too large :(

You can find my review of this pattern here.

Have you tried adding flied to your trousers or are you a die hard pull-on fan?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me :)

I don't know about you, but I like to do 'me stuff' on my birthday.  This year I took it to a new level (it's a big birthday!) so I took the week off to knit, sew and spend time in the mountains.  Want to see some pics?

I started off my birthday week with brunch at the Banff Springs Hotel with family and friends:




If you are ever passing and have the option of lunching here - do.  The food is fabulous, the views are amazing and the atmosphere is just perfect.  The hotel is known as the 'Castle in the Mountains' and the architecture is based on Scottish castles.  Lovely!

Next up, a couple of days later, was a trip to Canmore - I actually prefer Canmore to Banff as it is less commercialised, and spent my 'birthday Eve' with my Dad:






Thanks Dad!  We had a lovely lunch and then I hit the Sugar Pine, a fabulous quilt shop:





These are all fat quarters . . . . you see I have a new obsession . . . . more details to follow!

I have to say that I often forget how lucky I am to live within driving distance of the Canadian Rockies -I can actually see the mountains when I drive into Calgary to work/shop etc., and yet it has been a year or so since I visited Canmore or Banff - I like to think that I made up for it (a little) with two trips this week!

I also finished off another pair of socks:



I love mismatched socks :)

And then I played around with McCalls 6361, a trousers pattern with a fly front.


Here is a quick sneak peak - this post is getting rather long and I think that trousers need their own post!


They are actually made out of bright red corduroy, but it didn't photograph very well, so here they are in 'dynamic monochrome'!  Check out those flies!!  I plan on wearing them tomorrow, so will get some proper photos and give you the full lowdown!

How about you - how do you like to spend your birthday?  Do you celebrate or do you prefer to let the day pass you by?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No Flies on Me!

But there will be pretty soon!  I was lucky enough this weekend to take a class with Ron Collins, the fabulously talented and patient Canadian designer, at Creative Stitches in Calgary.  This show was held at Spruce Meadows, a fabulous equestrian centre that is world renowned.  This meant that the hall was very large and spacious, but with a faint smell of manure :)


As with most sewing shows that I have been to in the UK and here in Canada, quilting is such a big component, that I worry about the viability of fashion sewing/dressmaking.  I'm so glad to see it represented in blogland.  Having said that, I did take a lot of photos of some gorgeous quilts and booths - as well as the fabric that I bought, but more about that in another post!


So without further ado - here is my little baby patiently waiting to sew . . .


The class was great.  If you don't know Ron Collins, he works a lot with Sandra Betzina.  He is very patient and knowledgeable and completely understands the 'self taught' sewing brigade, as he is one of us!


Photo courtesy of Power Sewing.

We were taught to incorporate the fly into the front pattern pieces:


Sorry about the crummy photos but the lighting was not very good.


We were also shown how to extend the front pockets towards the fly and that acts as a 'powerband' to hold the front flat.  It would be particularly good if you had pleated trousers as there would be no strain on the outer fabric with the pleats, it would all be on the inner pocket fabrics.  As you can see I used green thread so that I cold see what I was doing! 



I know, it looks a bit of a mess, but it really was quick and easy to put together.  And the final result . . .


I'm really rather please with this.  In a way this class was a little like the bra making course - a mystery was de-mystified and I know feel equipped to attack 'proper' trousers!!  Oh, and I did two different types of pocket top-stitching, and yes some of the stitching was a big wonky!


And the wrong side,  A bit messy, but you get the picture!

Unfortunately there was one downside to this class - I managed to lose a foot for my machine.  What a nuisance.  Fortunately it was the 1/4" quilting foot so it was easy to replace, but grrrrrr!

I'm so pleased that I took this class - trousers with fly fronts have been something that I have previously avoided, purely because I did not know how to sew them up.  Watch this space!

How about you - have you learned any new skills or techniques recently?