Thursday, January 15, 2015

Complete: Kanerva Blouses

Back again, and this time with one of those dream pattern experiences you always kind of secretly hope for but very rarely encounter. Yup, the-no-alterations-needed-great-fit-straight-from-the-pattern experience! 

This is the Named Patterns Kanerva Peplum Blouse, and it's the most amiable, cooperative pattern I've yet come across. I do love Named's overall aesthetic, and I'd admired the lines of this simple blouse when it was first released. It just took me this long to get around to it!

I'd found a lovely soft white spotted Collette Dinnigan silk at Rathdowne Remnants in July, and had intended it for quite another top/tunic pattern. But my experience with making that one up in something else was such an unmitigated misery there was no way I was going to sacrifice this fabric to its vagaries...

I'm so glad I remembered Kanerva! I'm thrilled with how it paired with my special silk...

It's as light as air to wear, and I finally have an inkling of why someone would pay $$$$ for a designer blouse. (Not that it's an option - so glad I can sew!)

There's not much to really say about this one, other than it makes me very, very happy...

I do love the back opening (slightly awkward photo, but never mind), and the way the peplum sits open at the back. Mind you, even though I like the shank buttons I used - very plain, but echoing the tiny printed spot - they do start to be 'noticeable' if I'm sitting with my back against something for any length of time. Perhaps not a blouse for long car trips...

The only modification I made was to shorten the sleeves; I liked the look of them finishing at the waist seam. And, as per my resolution to take my time over projects this year rather than rushing them, I tried finishing them with a band, button and placket. It worked out pretty well, I think; I positioned the opening by copying another RTW blouse. The neckline is finished with bias binding cut from the same fabric, and all the insides are finished with french seams.

I think I'll be enjoying this one for years; the design is really classic and I'm happy with my workmanship on it. I haven't tried yet but I think it'll tuck into a high waisted skirt quite nicely, and since I'll just as happily wear it with jeans and a blazer or cardigan, it looks like it'll be a pretty versatile piece. 

I liked it so much actually, I dug out some rayon I've been hoarding for over a year - waiting for the perfect pattern - that I'd only bought a metre of. Which was not enough for anything much...except a sleeveless Kanerva!

I didn't even need to adjust the armholes; I thought they were fine as is.

This is a kind of rayon I hadn't come across before - it's a crepe kind of texture. It's a bit heavier than the silk above but still falls beautifully, and it feels wonderful to wear.

I'd planned on flat (see? learning from previous one...) silver metal buttons, but couldn't find any that I liked. So I went for plain navy ones, and I think I prefer those actually. It's a busier print than I usually wear, but I was drawn to it in the shop and I'm glad I went with it. Actually, I've noticed I tend towards prints in summer, but not much in winter - I'm more interested in texture when it comes to cool weather clothes.

I've worn this - both of them, actually - quite a bit already. I do love clothes that you can put on and effectively forget about (no fussing or adjusting), and this fits the bill nicely.

I didn't do french seams on this (why do I feel slightly apologetic??), and finished off the armholes with the binding as per the neck. I really do like this as a finishing technique - it makes the insides so pretty :)

I like the look of the peplum-less version of the blouse too, but feel like I'm a bit o-l-d to really carry it off. Perhaps with a high-waisted skirt or trousers with a singlet tucked in underneath (i.e. no midriff skin showing)....I'll give it further thought.

I forgot last time to include my sole effort at 2014 Christmassy gift sewing, so here 'tis:

A little rag doll for my one-year-old niece. This is the Jenny pattern by Pupadou on Etsy. My toy/doll sewing experience is slightly above non-existent, and so I can heartily recommend this pattern as ideal for beginners. It's beautifully drafted and the instructions are very clear. My mum sewed two summer dresses for her (i.e. granddaughter/niece) and gave me the leftovers so I could make up matching ones for the doll. It was a fun project!

But I have to admit, I liked getting back to 'selfish' sewing...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Complete: Nostalgia Skirt

Happy New Year everyone! Hope yours has begun happily and heathily. 

Now this technically isn't the first make of the year, but I've got something of a backlog of unblogged projects (mojo was running high during October and November...) I have a feeling this may not be to everyone's taste, but I really don't mind that because personally I love it. Do you know, it occurs to me that before I started sewing for myself two years ago I could never have said that? Much less, meant it? Sewing really has given me much more confidence in my own opinions and taste!

I very rarely impulse buy fabric anymore - I like having a controllable stash far too much :) But occasionally if I spy a really wonderful print or just the right kind of sparkle that piece is going to come home with me. And so it was with this ever so slightly sheeny, made-in-Italy gem I found in the remnant basket at my local warehouse. It's a collection of painted city scenes, cafes, restaurants etc, printed in all directions. Having held it up from each edge in turn in front of family members, the verdict was evenly split over which way was up so I figured it didn't matter. There was just 60cm left, which I was hoping would be enough for a longer line pencil skirt, using trusty old New Look 6107. (Two other me-made favourites from this pattern here, and here)

The reason I loved this print so immediately was that it reminded me vividly of a painting of my grandfather's, an artist, that used to hang in their holiday home. That was a cityscape too, and I remember I used to love staring at it when I was little. There was a real energy to the scene, and part of me was genuinely convinced that if I just looked long enough or at just the right moment I'd see the people and trams start to move....It was one of my favourite things about visiting there :)

Naturally, I wasn't about to leave it in the remnant bin! Here's a close up - you can see some upside down people near the top... 

My art knowledge certainly isn't all it could be, so I've no idea whether this is / these are famous pieces, and I don't recognise the signature below. If it is well known and anyone could enlighten me as to the artist, I'd love to know!

Aside: Here's a tip I wish I'd heard before prewashing this fabric - serge or zigzag over the cut edges first. Not doing this cost me 5cm (2") of length - believe me when I tell you this stuff frays like no one's business. In any case, it's not quite as long as I planned and hoped for...

What was left after prewashing gave me enough to cut a length halfway between view D & E.

The size 8 is a comfortable fit at the waist and hips on me, but I wanted it a bit more tapered at the hem. In the previous versions I did this at the back seam, but since I wanted to have the kick pleat on this one, I took it in at the side seams instead. 1" at both seams was enough to shape it and still allow for walking comfortably. Which is important. (And my one quibble with the BHL Charlotte skirt)

The fabric wasn't flimsy, but I wasn't sure whether it had enough weight to cope with tucked in tops, so I underlined it in a beige poplin. It's nicely structured now. Edges were just overlocked, and I quite like the look of the patterned seams against the plain insides.

 I found the waist band seams were getting quite bulky, even after layering/trimming, so I decided to try binding the lower edge of the facing with bias binding - a decision made easier by the fact that I already had some just the right colour. I hadn't tried this before, and I really like it; it's a nice little finish.

This, I foretell, is going to be a pretty useful transitional piece. It's a bit heavy for hot weather, but for most of the rest of the year I think I'll get plenty of wear of it. (We had a cold snap in October so I can confidently state it also works very well with a jumper, tights and boots). Win!

Last post I shared re goals for 2015, particularly re slowing down and sewing fewer garments, but putting more care into ensuring I made each one the best I could. There was a photo I'd seen on Pinterest, that was actually what starting me thinking along those lines. I couldn't find it while I was writing the last time, but have since:

I don't know who these women are, where they're from, or anything about them, but I was so inspired by this photo. All that incredible, intricate, painstaking work! It's just extraordinary. 

2014 for me unintentionally became about making as many items on my master list as possible. In retrospect, I'm not sure that really fits into the ideals behind 'slow' fashion, which is what prompted me to start sewing my clothes rather than buying RTW. I know I had ideas about garments, in terms of finishing, embellishment or technique, that I dismissed because "it would take too long". (Even on this skirt, I debated trying Hong Kong seams and didn't, solely because of that.) I want to get to the end of 2015 having made garments I'm really proud of. That's the plan, anyway! 

What are your plans for 2015?