Monday, 30 May 2011

May Book Analysis - "How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns" by Lee Hollahan

This month I dwelled deep into one of the first books I bought. "How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns" by Lee Hollahan promises to show us "how to get the most from sewing patterns - from choosing the right size to understanding all the different markings and translating flat shapes into wearable garments. You will learn how to change the shaping, length and detailing to suit your own body shape, taste and style."
I think it delivers this, but only at a beginners level. A more experienced seamstress or pattern maker will probably find this book quite basic. That's why I bought it! I was quite a beginner and not yet had a full understanding on many simple basic things. Understanding what notches are and why they are important alongside other markings on commercial patterns helped me a lot on my initial journey.

Chapter 1 is all about tools and equipments (as you so often find in beginners books). All your necessary tools are listed alongside others not fundamental but quite handy, such as pattern master or french curves. Whilst I read on many blogs that you can just use a plate or any round objects to tweak curves in patterns, if you're serious about pattern making these come in very handy.
Chapter 2 is all about commercial patterns. This section was so helpful in deciphering those pattern envelopes, which did puzzle me when I first saw them. Illustrations of commercial patterns, both enveloped and tissue pattern itself, with description of what each marking or text there means, makes it very, very easy to understand.
One of my favourite sections in this chapter is about body shape. I always knew pencil skirts are not the most flattering for me, but I love them and always try using them and styling them. Reading that it is because I have a narrow rectangle body shape helps me accept it and move on.
I am indeed a narrow rectangle but I am not tall. I am quite petite in fact.
This chapter guides you in taking accurate measurements and also help understand what wearing ease and design ease is all about. Tips on cutting and marking fabric are also included. All with brilliant illustrations that take the guess work out of it. I can't stress enough how important I think illustrations are for beginners.

Chapter 3 introduces us to pattern alterations. No major creative pattern alterations though, just the basic ones such as shortening and lengthening pieces, moving bust point, moving darts, increasing or decreasing a waist band. A big disappointment is the lack of trousers alterations, apart from length.
Chapter 4 progress to designing own patterns. It explains what pattern blocks are and how you can use them. This book also offers pattern blocks at the end that can be transferred to grid paper and used as a baseline for your creations. No trousers though. It guides us to making our own toile or muslin and altering it to create a perfect fit. In this chapter there are some more advanced pattern alterations such as those relating to armholes and (yay!) trousers, including crotch and leg length.
The idea is that after you have perfected your toile/ muslin you transfer all alterations to your blocks and from these you can start the creative work. A dressform is presented as fundamental for this work, as a lot of the pattern design lines are tried and tested on a dressform.
The book progresses with some pattern manipulation ideas for sleeves, skirts, collars, etc., all wonderfully illustrated and explained. It's fascinating to read how a simple dart alteration can significantly change the whole design of a garment.
Chapter 5 contains the pattern blocks already mentioned and Chapter 6 presents core sewing techniques. I confess I never look at this last chapter as I have a couple of sewing technique books.
I did start work on my own pattern block last year but have not yet progressed any further. I will resume this soon as I do want to dwell further onto pattern making.
My head is full of wonderful designs which I fail to draw successfully so mastering pattern making might be the key to bring this designs into life. Watch this space! ;)

Do you have this book or other pattern marking books? How much do you alter or indeed create your own patterns?

P.S. I apologise for not having this post up yesterday. The fact it's a bank holiday weekend made me feel it was just Saturday yesterday.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sneak Peak

Aware of my week long without posts I'll leave you with two sneak peaks of what I currently have under the sewing machine. 
Colour not very representative. It's more of a mustard yellow!
Quite excited with these and hope to have them finished very soon.

I'll be back tomorrow with my Book of the Month review! This time a pattern making book.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

And the winners are....

....three gorgeous ladies from all around the world have been randomly selected to receive the sewing goodies from my 100th follower giveaway. Many thanks for all who entered. My blog anniversary is coming soon so I will host another giveaway then.

So this lovely 1940s blouse and the box of random sewing goodies goes to... Lady Cherry!

This stylish Tracey Reese pattern goes to...Khriste B!

And the colourful and diverse 1970s goes to... Katherine!

Congratulations to you all, hope you enjoy the patterns! Please email me at suzysewingblog[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk with your addresses!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Hungarian Fabric Finds

My fabric buys from Hungarian! No crazy prints or florals, I'm afraid. I had practical in mind and not enough space in suitcase so these might look quite boring for you. I tried taking good detailed photos of these but failed miserable. Apologies for that!

First a gorgeous blue gabardine with a orange lining. I will most probably do  Beignet Skirt with these.
From left to right, a shirting aimed at a future bf shirt. He chose the print but when I got home I noticed that the strips run cross grain so not sure how to pull this one off. What would happen if I cut pattern pieced cross grain when I should do grainline?
The middle one is a gorgeous dark teal in a medium weight cotton. I love the colour and will probably do my Ginger with it. On the right a stretch pale yellow lace. When I saw it I though of making a 2 fabric dress with this as bodice but still need to add more thought to it. All these pieces are between 2 and 3 meters, expect the shirting which is 5 meters.
 I love a good old leopard print and couldn't resist these. The one of the left was the first one I bought. 2 meters of a nice, soft jersey I plan on making a top. The one of left is also a jersey-ish (exact contents unknown) which I love and was so cheap I got 5 meters. I have a few ideas for this one!
 Cheap as peanuts as well, was the wool blend on the left. When I did my Lady Grey I struggled to find cheap wool blends and ended up using gabardine. I bought five meters of this for a future winter jacket. On the right 2 meters of some beautiful lace.
That's all I bought! What do you think? Now that I listed them all it doesn't look that much, I have to say.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Colette Patterns Ginger Skirt

Not long ago, Colette Patterns launched two brand new patterns aimed at beginners. One is Violet, a gorgeous blouse with a cute peter pan collar, and the other one is Ginger, a cute simple A-Line skirt. I initially resisted getting these as I have way too many patterns on my stash, but a couple of weeks ago I gave in and order them from M is for Make. I also ordered the Beignet Skirt. I already had the fabric selection in mind for all these, some from current stash and some that I bought in Hungary ( a post of my fabric finds still to come), but hadn't planned to sew them straightway.

Then, I had a string of mishaps with my jacket and other projects and decided to halt them for some time. This still stands. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments and suggestions, it means so much to me to have them. Some of you suggested turning to other crafts or doing something simple and as I was reading some of the comments, I stumbled across the newly named A Fashionable Stitch, by the lovely Sunni and discovered she is about to lead a beginners sewalong, using the Ginger skirt. Need I say more? I know I'm not a complete beginner but an easier project is what I need now and I do love sewing along with others.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Declaring my First UFO

Immensely frustrated with the McCalls 6170. Today I decided I had enough of it and needed a long, very long break!
The lower band sleeve was a nightmare to construct. I didn't fully understand the instructions and the sleeve is too narrow to go on the machine's free arm. I done each and re-done many times and settled at a mediocre result in the end.
Even though I pinned the collar matching notches and centre back seam it is uneven and wonky.
To add to that I have no idea how I did this topstitching!
And when I think I can disguise some issues with a good press, the iron does this to my collar!
I don't think the jacket is terribly difficult to construct but for some reason since Saturday I have been extremely clumsy even with basic, normal things. And now I think the jacket is jinxed somehow so want nothing to do with it, for a while. And actually, a alteration muslin I did on Vogue 8604 trousers (started on Saturday) was also a disaster so it will wait to.

I will relax for the rest of the week and start afresh, with new fabrics and patterns, next weekend! Hopefully this won't last :(

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Sabrina Dress in Action and Hungarian Fabric Shops

I woke up this morning with an urge to finish my RTW tailoring sew along jacket but have now given up. For some reason everything I do is not that good and I have lost count on the number of mistakes I've done. I'm also very clumsy, dropping everything to the floor, constantly stabbing myself with pins, etc.
Instead I though I would share with you a couple of photos of My Sabrina Dress in action and report on the Hungarian fabric shops I found.
I made the bolero using Butterick 3345 View A, without the ruffle. The taffeta was a dream to work with and my first time as well. I lined it with a baby blue habotai. It was straightforward to sew, with only sleeves being tricky (which they always are for me).
You might notice, the lovely green clutch bag I got on ebay (after madly falling in love) is not in the photos. Unfortunately the seller emailed me a week after I bought it to say she was going on holiday and not back until after the holiday period. I was not happy with the poor service and communication and got a refund. That meant I had to do something last minute. I am not proud of what I did, but for what it was it worked.

Obviously, part of my agenda in visiting Hungary was exploring fabric and haberdashery shops and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I bought a considerable amount of fabric ::blushes:: and will share it with you in a different post.
In Budapest I visited a street stretch full of shops, recommended by the lovely VickiC. The shops I visited (about 7) were full of fabric, in some cases so much that browsing was difficult. The prices were slightly lower than UK or about the same. The problem I had was not being able to read what the fabric label said and majority of shops assistants not knowing the English fabric terms. I kicked myself for not having done proper research, including find out names of fabric types in Hungarian.
In Győr, where the wedding was, there were more fabric shops with cheaper prices than Budapest. I visited about 4 and again, they didn't disappoint.
One of my favourites had a dubious entrance, as it looked like we were entering someone's house. It is also the only one I managed to take photos. I know, massive failure for my part, but when you surrounded by so much fabric loveliness, who can think of photos!

Monday, 9 May 2011

100 followers...giveaway time!

I have reached 100 followers! Yay! What's better than a giveaway to celebrate. Actually there are three giveaways in here, so keep reading.

You can choose one of the following three patterns:
A lovely Style Print Pattern 624 from the 1940s, I think. The pattern pieces are printed but the instructions are missing. Also missing is the front facing piece for view A and the sleeve band piece. None of them look difficult to draft, if you're up to the task. Size 38 bust, so too big for me.
If you prefer the colourful 1970s, you can choose this Simplicity 4786 pattern, which includes a pinafore dress or waistcoat, a skirt and trousers. Size 16, 38 bust and all pieces and instructions included.
Lastly a modern pattern, Vogue 1092 by Tracey Reese. I adored this cute two piece suit, especially the sleeves, and very hastily bought it. What I didn't think is that I could never wear this for work as the sleeves are short and I'm not keen in displaying my tattoos at work. Sizes 6-8-10-12 and still in fabric folds.
In addition to one of these patterns I am also giving away a small box full of miscellaneous haberdashery, to the first number drawn.

To enter simply:
- Leave a comment with your choice of pattern and why. Only one can be selected. 
- Be a follower of this blog

This giveaway is open worldwide and will close on Sunday, 22nd May 2011, 6pm, GMT time (London). I will endeavour to announce the winner that night.

I will use random number generator. The first number drawn will get the pattern of their choice plus the little box. After this I continue to drawn numbers and the first to be drawn that have selected one of the remaining patterns will get it. Does this make sense?

Good luck to all and many, many thanks for reading my blog! I truly love knowing all my ramblings are of interest to someone.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Love Fabric Vintage Shirt

Another project whipped up from my sewing list, with the fabric left from the Love Fabric Skirt! This was also my second project from an original vintage pattern, a lovely wrap shirt from Simplicity 4255! I have to say the instructions were a bit tricky to follow and I have improvised on some construction aspects.
The interior is not as neat as I would like but it is still acceptable. The facings don't seem to hold very well and I have to spend some time arranging them inside the shirt.
I quite like the end result and now just have to make some more high waisted skirts and trousers to go with this, as I think it goes super well with my Corduroy trousers.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Another great award came my way...

By the talented Andrea from Invisible Flower. If you are not yet acquainted with her blog go check it now and see some of the amazing outfits she has pulled together. I absolutely love the Bird Dress! Thank you for this lovely award.
1.  What size shoes do you wear?  If you wear size 7, can I borrow your shoes?
I wear size 3 shoes so I doubt very much they will fit a size 7 ;). I love having small feet but sometimes it can be frustrating as some shoe brands start at size 4 up.
2.  30s or 60s?
Early 60s please, although I don't dislike some late 60s stuff. Some of the things Audrey Hepburn wore on How to Steal a Million , for example, are not bad.
3.  Have you ever kissed someone you shouldn't have?
You know what? I don't think I have! I though about this a couple of times since I first read this question and can't think of anyone. My oh my, am I terrible boring or what :/
4.  Have you ever been poisoned?  Was it by the girlfriend of the person you kissed?  That is awesomely "Knot's Landing".
Other than dodgy restaurant food, I never had the displeasure of poisoning. 
5.  Who is on your "Celebrity Free Pass" list (top five)?
At different stages of my life I had temporary celebrity crushes but Johnny Depp is the only that remained. And I have to say I think he's a great actor as well.
That's it for this award. I'm afraid no big excitements or revelations. If you were expecting so, please forgive me! ;) I always find it hard to pass awards so consider yourself tagged if you are reading this.


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