Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What are you doing on Thursday evening?

What are you up to on this Thursday evening (the 2nd of June)? If you're free you should come along to the MMQGs first sit and sew evening.

It's 7-10pm at GJs in Brunswick and should be heaps of fun! For more information see the post on the MMQG website.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Genome Quilt Progress - May 2011

The other day I showed you my "progress sheet" for my genome quilt blocks. While I had the blocks out to take a photo of them and the sheet I couldn't resist seeing what all the ones I have done so far look like all laid out. Now, it would be a bit remiss of me not to have taken a photo of it to share with you as well wouldn't it?

What do you think? I'm loving it!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Retreat Recap

A certain friend has told me off for not posting about the retreat last weekend yet, so I thought I'd better get on that this weekend!

The retreat was AMAZING. We were a little worried going up there because when it was being organised we had the pick of dates we wanted, so we were worried it would be too good to be true. However, a sneaky peek through the windows while we were waiting to be let in put our minds at ease - the place is beautiful! It turns out that Craft Retreat had only opened in March, which was when we were making our booking. It sounds like it's already filling up for the rest of the year.

We had Friday afternoon and evening, all day Saturday and Sunday morning to sew, and PLENTY got done!

Our Retreat Group. From left to right: Helene, Me, Bronwyn, Kirsty, MJ, Annabel, Marg and Andrea. (plus Louise, who arrived late so isn't pictured)

When we got there on Friday I got to working on my genome quilt, until dinnertime which was a delicious "planned pot-luck" dinner at the house. We then watched Murials Wedding and added green border hexys to a couple of hexagon flowers while watching the film.

Making use of the design wall

Saturday was dedicated to sewing together my wonky stars from the MMQG quilting bee into two tops (well technically a top and back, but the quilt is destined to be reversible). I did the last couple of seams on Sunday morning, but was very happy to have achieved the goal of getting them done. I'll post a more detailed post about how I went about putting the tops together at another date. (I took lots of in process photos on Helene's lovely camera).

My two finished wonky star tops

Saturday night we went out for a delicious and decadent meal at Mercato, after which some of the group watched another movie, and the rest (including me) chose to continue sewing.

All my genome quilt blocks so far

Sunday morning before leaving I chugged out a few more genome quilt blocks, bringing my total for the weekend to 16 blocks. 29 down, 20 to go, I'm getting there slowly.

The sheet I've been using to mark off the blocks as I've done them - the red crosses were from when I was rotating the HSTs, and now colouring them in means I've sewn the block together.

So all in all, an AMAZING weekend! We had such a good time we're planning to go back in November... hopefully I'll be able to go too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Pattern, Seven Bloggers - How To: In-Seam Pockets

Are you still following along with the "one pattern seven bloggers" project? All of last weeks posts are linked in the bottom of my last post here.

This weeks post will be a "how to" for something we did when making the dress. One thing that I knew I definitely wanted to do with the pattern was add pockets into the side seams. I find it very frustrating wearing clothes without pockets, so find pockets in my dresses an essential design feature these days.

For this dress I decided to add in-seam pockets into the side seams. I put in-seam pockets into my "twin spruce knock-off dress", except in that dress I put the seams slightly further forward than the side seams (In the two seams made when I split the entire skirt into thirds), however they feel a bit weird when there's stuff in them and I'm sitting down, so this time i'm going to stick with the traditional side seam pockets.

Below is a photo tutorial for how to sew together the skirt pieces for these in-seam pockets. My pocket pattern piece was kind of fudged from looking at a few pockets in different garments and has turned out quite a good size (including for an iphone, as mine lives in my pocket). I was hoping to be able to scan the pocket pattern piece to include in this post but haven't been able to get my hands on a scanner this week. I will endevour to scan it in the future if there's interest though.

If you want to make your own pocket pattern piece I would recommend looking through your wardrobe for an item with an inseam pocket and using that as a starting point, and then checking it will fit the most common things you will put in it (eg your phone). In the pictures below you can see the general shape of the pocket.

One thing to take note of before following this tutorial is that I have moved the zip from the side to the centre back as I don't like side zips. The burdastyle pattern has a side zip, so you would need to put the side seams together slightly differently with a side zip (it's possible and i've done it for a skirt, and if there's interest I can make a tutorial for that too).

So, onto the tutorial.

First you need to assemble your pieces of fabric - you will need the following:
- 1x skirt front piece (in this case as the skirt is gathered it's just a big rectangle)
- 2x skirt back pieces (this is the same as the skirt front piece but cut in half to make two pieces)
- 4x pocket pieces

Here you can see one pocket's worth of pieces laid out - if you want two pockets you'll do exactly the same thing twice, on either side of the skirt front.

One important thing you need to decide is at which height to put the pockets. I put my pockets at 10cm from the top of the skirt pieces - which means they'll be about 10cm below my waist. I know that this height works for me based on my previous dress. For reference I'm 5'4, so if you're taller you might want to increase this distance a bit.

Measure down  the side seam edges of the skirt pieces 10cm (or whatever distance you chose) from the top. For two pockets you will have FOUR edges to measure - both sides of the skirt front and one side of each of the skirt back pieces.

Make sure the skirt backs are the opposite sides and not the same side - you can pin together your centre back seam if that will help prevent you getting confused. Alternatively, if you have the space, lay out all your pieces of fabric so you can see which seam is which.

Now pin your pocket piece to the edge of the skirt pieces RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.
You will need to line up the straight edge of the pocket with the straight side seams of the skirt, and put the top of the pocket at the 10cm mark you measured before.

(I have outlined the pocket pieces in a dashed white line as it was tricky to see because of my fabric)

Here you can see one pair of pockets pinned on - the skirt front is on the left, the skirt back on the right, and they are a mirror image of each other with RIGHT SIDES FACING.

Now sew along that straight line you just pinned with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8 inch) from just above the pocket to just below.

Now finish that seam allowance, eg by zig-zag stitching along the raw edge.
You only need to finish the bit you just stitched, the rest will be done later.
(I forgot to do this on my first pocket so I had to go back and do it by hand at the end)

Now press the pocket pieces outwards, pressing the seam allowances towards the pocket pieces as in the photo below: 

Now place the skirt front and skirt back together RIGHT SIDES FACING and pin down the side seams, and around the edge of the pockets. The edges should be identical and should all match up nicely, as shown here:

Now you sew the side seams and the pocket bags all as one long seam. Start at the top of the skirt, stitch with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8 inch) along the side seam until you reach the pocket. When you get to about 1.5cm (5/8 inch) below the top edge of the pocket stop with your needle down and rotate the skirt so that you can sew around the edge of the pocket pieces. When you get back to the side seam stop again, rotate the skirt and sew down the side seam to the bottom of the skirt pieces.

To demonstrate what I mean I have marked your stitching line with a white dashed line in the photo below: 

Once you've sewn this seam, finish the edges along the same line as you just stitched.

Press the pocket and seam allowances FORWARDS:

(in this photo the skirt front is on the right hand side)

And now you have a pocket!! Hurrah!

The next (and last step) is optional, but I prefer it. I like to topstitch my pocket along the front edge to help the pocket stay facing forwards.

I hope this this tutorial has been clear. If you have any questions please comment below and I will do my best to answer them. If you're interested in the pattern piece, please comment saying so below so that I know there's interest - that way I will have more incentive to get off my arse and scan it.

Again, remember to hop along to the other lovely ladies taking part in their projects to see what they've decided to show:
Sam: http://hand-quilter.blogspot.com/
Marie: http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-4-techniques.html
Reana Louise: http://curvespatternsandpins.blogspot.com/2011/05/lace-trimmed-bias-tape.html
Kat: http://petticoatsandpeplums.blogspot.com/2011/05/1-pattern-seven-bloggers-week-4.html
Jen: http://the-paperdoll.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-4.html
Amy: http://sewingthroughthemotions.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-lining.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Pattern, Seven Bloggers - Fit

Wow, week three of the "one pattern seven bloggers" project already, time is flying! Did you check out the great fabric and fitting posts from the girls last week? They're all linked at the bottom of last weeks post. This week I will discuss how I tackled fitting the pattern.

I have a confession to make, I kinda cheated when it came to altering the "one pattern seven bloggers" pattern to fit me. You see, the pattern really is quite similar to the bodice that I drafted over Christmas with a three key differences; both the front and back necklines, the cap "sleeves" on the Burdastyle bodice, and my bodice has two bust darts whereas the Burdastyle one has just one.

Burdastyle pattern on the left, my bodice pattern on the right

Rather than going through the whole fitting process again I used the pattern pieces of my bodice to trace off some of the seamlines to hopefully get a good fit straight away. I also decided to keep the two bust darts rather than convert it into one dart as I was sceptical as to the quality of the fit over my boobs if I just did one dart.

I started with the back bodice piece as I expected it would need less changes, and I could straight away see that the Burdastyle bodice is much too long for me (which isn't surprising, I had to shorten the length of the Emily Blouse when I made it too). I lined up the pattern pieces using the underarm seam and the top of the darts as reference points and I could see that I needed to remove length from both ends, so I drew the waist seam line according to my bodice pattern, and then picked the shoulder seam from the Burdastyle pattern that looked at the right height.. I then drew in the centre back seam from my bodice pattern, but extended it up to the neckline of the Burdastyle pattern and this is what I ended up with:

My back bodice piece ready to make into a muslin

Then I moved onto the front bodice piece, which needed more changes, mostly due to adding the second dart. I lined up the pattern pieces the same way, using the corner of the underarm seam, and traced off most of the shape of the pattern piece of my bodice (the darts, side seam and waist seam). It's a very different shape due to the added dart.

The shoulder seams were MUCH higher than the length of my bodice (sorry, I forgot to take a photo), so after checking that it was identical to the front shoulder seam, I used the shape of the back shoulder seam that I'd just finished to draw a lower front shoulder seam, basing the height on the height of my bodice pattern piece. I then used the neckline as per the Burdastyle pattern.

I was inspired to try it this way from the method that Carolyn has mentioned that she uses to modify patterns, where she uses her TNT pattern to get the fit and the shape right, and uses new patterns to add design features easily to the pattern that she knows already fits her.

Thankfully these changes meant that when I made up a muslin the fit was already pretty good. I made three small changes to the pattern after my muslin (which I didn't manage to get a photo of because there wasn't anyone around to take one for me, sorry!)

I lengthened the bodice by 2.5 cm - I was concerned in my muslin that it was sitting a little high, so I have lengthened the bodice and will make a final call when i've sewn the bodice together but before I attach the skirt.

I actually wore the muslin around the house for a bit (I was home alone), and in doing things while wearing the muslin I discovered a major fit problem - the bottoms of the armholes were too high, particularly at the front. While hanging out some washing I felt a rip, and the front armhole had ripped perpendicular to the seam! So I trimmed off some of the armhole so that (hopefully) doesn't happen in the real dress.

What was trimmed off the armholes

Lastly, the front neckline was gaping a bit so I took two tucks in the neckline pointing towards the bust point, which I then rotated out of the pattern piece on the paper:

First I cut out the tucks down to the bust point:

Then I rotated the pattern piece to close the space from the tucks. I also trimmed the neckline to give it a smooth line:

And so my pattern is ready to go!! Exciting.

Remember to check out the posts by the other lovely ladies involved in this project: (once again, links to the posts will be added once they're posted)
Sam: http://hand-quilter.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-3.html
Marie: http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-3-fabric.html
Reana Louise: http://curvespatternsandpins.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-dog-ate-it-miss.html
Kat: http://petticoatsandpeplums.blogspot.com/2011/05/1-pattern-seven-bloggers-week-3.html
Jen: http://the-paperdoll.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-3.html

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


more suitcases
Image from here

Next weekend I'm going on a MMQG Retreat. I'm disproportionately excited about the whole thing, and as the date gets closer am getting more excited (if that's possible!) An entire 48 hours of sewing, eating and gossiping with some fabulous company - what is there NOT to be excited about?

I've started writing mental lists of what I need to pack (which will be converted into actual lists very soon I'm sure), and have been worrying about forgetting some vital thing that will mean that I can't do the sewing I want to do, so I will, as they say, be making my list and checking it twice.

I have no idea how much sewing I'll be able to get done while I'm gone, but I'm planning on taking plenty; something truely magical would have to happen for me to get through it all. The major thing I want to make headway on is the piecing of my genome quilt (in itself enough to last more than the weekend). I'll also take the star blocks for my "Oh Beehave" quilt, I'm sure having the other 8 ladies around would do wonders for helping work out layouts. And I think I'll also take along my hexies, just in case I want to do some hand sewing rather than just machine sewing.

SO excited!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are you metric or imperial?

Some people seem to think in either metric or imperial measurements and can't comprehend the opposite. Other people can think interchangably in both. I'm a really messed up version in between.

I measure small things in either inches or cm depending on my mood. I know my measurements (bust, waist, hip, etc) in inches but not cm, but I buy fabric by the metre and can measure a metre of fabric out incredibly accurately on my arm. I use a 1.5cm seam allowance for garment sewing, but a 1/4 inch one for quilting. Heights are always feet and inches, metres means nothing to me.  Medium distances (for example ones I could walk or cycle) are in km, and my brain just doesn't fathom big distances.

Weights are just the same. I don't get on with "cup" measurements, and my recipes are a bizarre mixture of oz and grams, litres and pints (even within the same recipe sometimes). However, weights of people I can't comprehend unless they're in kilos.

What kind of measurements do you think in?

(this random post brought to you by my new tape measure thats 3 metres long!! and even better only $2! (from GJs))

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One Pattern, Seven Bloggers - Fabric

Did you take a look at the other girls blog posts for the "one pattern, seven bloggers" project last week? There is such varied inspiration, I can't wait to see how the different dresses turn out. If you didn't take a look I've put all the links at the bottom of my last post

This week is just a quick posts to show you the fabric that I chose for this project:

Yup, I went with the geometric-y print wool/viscose blend fabric, and also bought a navy lining fabric to match as I plan to fully line the dress for warmth and so that I can wear it with tights without it clinging to my legs (hopefully).

I've been considering having a go at adding some piping to the dress... but I've never done piping before; does anyone have any tips? Or good tutorials or resources?

Again, here are (or will be) links to this weeks posts by the other 6 lovely ladies participating in this project:
Sam: http://hand-quilter.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-2.html
Marie: http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-2-muslin.html
Reana Louise: http://curvespatternsandpins.blogspot.com/2011/05/blue-blue.html
Kat: http://petticoatsandpeplums.blogspot.com/2011/05/1-pattern-seven-bloggers-week-2.html
Amy: http://sewingthroughthemotions.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-muslin.html

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pin Cushion Swap - Thank's Kirsty!

The pin cushion that I recieved for the MMQG pin cushion swap was from Kirsty, and it's seriously awesome! A really cute pattern, lovely fabrics, and it's HUGE! I won't be running out of space or pricking myself with pins poking all the way through the pin cushion.

Pin Cushion from MMQG Pin Cushion Swap
(pictured next to my iphone for scale)

The only potential problem is that it may not get used as a pin cushion as it's also lots of fun to throw around!

Thanks heaps Kirsty, I love it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Pattern, Seven Bloggers - Inspiration

I have a very exciting project to tell you about today.

A little while ago Sam contacted me and another 5 bloggers asking if we wanted to take part in a fun little project called "one pattern, seven bloggers". The idea is that all seven of us will sew up the same pattern in a way that suits our needs and style, sharing the process and the seven probably very different dresses at the end.

Here are the seven bloggers involved in the project:
Sam: http://hand-quilter.blogspot.com/
Marie: http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.com/
Reana Louise: http://curvespatternsandpins.blogspot.com/
Kat: http://petticoatsandpeplums.blogspot.com/
Jen: http://the-paperdoll.blogspot.com/
Amy: http://sewingthroughthemotions.blogspot.com/
and Me

We will be making up this Burdastyle pattern, posting on the same topics in relation to the project on Wednesdays until the 1st of June, when we will reveal our finished dresses.


And so, onto my first post - the theme for which is "inspiration".

As I've mentioned before, generally when clothes making in Melbourne it's easier to go to the fabric store with a vague idea in mind and look for inspiration in the fabric, as it's often very tricky to find exactly the fabric that you have in your imagination. So for this project I wandered over to The Fabric Store and took a look at what fabrics they have that could work with this dress.

For my inspiration post I though I'd share with you some fabrics that I saw that I think would work for this pattern.

First up, a lovely bright royal blue cotton with a lovely drape. Simple but would be stunning

What about this great geometric print? This is a Marc Jacobs wool viscose blend.

An obvious choice for the dress I think, a cute flower print, but I can't go past Rayon whenever I see it, and this is a cotton rayon blend

Plaids are always fun, this is a cotton, lycra and nylon blend.

What about something completely different; this double-layered Helmut lang cotton nylon blend has a bit more of a "suiting" style but still has a fairly good drape.

Or similar, this wool suiting was a little thicker but would probably just about work. Alternatively, the gathers in the skirt could be converted into pleats or box pleats with this thicker fabric.

For something indulgent how about this stunning silk print? Underlined it would make such a nice light floaty dress. The photo just doesn't do it justice, it's one of those fabrics you have to feel it to believe it.

I was thinking about ways to alter this pattern, and two obvious things struck me as things that could be done but would still keep the "feel" of the pattern. The first is altering the skirt. As I mentioned above, you could change the gathers into pleats, or change it to an A line skirt. The second is altering the neckline, here are some examples off the top of my head of how could could change the neckline of this dress:

So, there's my inspiration.I think I know which one i'm going to choose to make, but I'm going to save telling you until a later post. I will tell you two things though - the first is that I plan to make this a winter suitable dress. Well Melbourne winter anyway, which really just means being able to layer with it and wear tights. The second is that the dress will definitely end up with pockets!

But tell me; which would you make?

PS: Don't forget to check out the other 6 "inspiration" themed posts:
Amy: http://sewingthroughthemotions.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-my.html
Sam: http://hand-quilter.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-1.html
Marie: http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers-1.html
Reana Louise:  http://curvespatternsandpins.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers.html
Kat: http://petticoatsandpeplums.blogspot.com/2011/05/1-pattern-seven-bloggers.html
Jen: http://the-paperdoll.blogspot.com/2011/05/one-pattern-seven-bloggers.html

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