Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finished - My 70's Midi Jumpsuit!

Well I've finished my 1970's midi jumpsuit, and I quite like it!

I don't think it will be my "go to" outfit, but reserved for those days when I feel like being a bit quirky. I have to say I would not have made this had I not been captivated by the brown tweed version on the envelope,with it's 60's/70's polo neck and boots styling - I can't think of any other way I would wear this.  Polo necks and boots are a bit of a winter uniform with me, and therefore are the perfect (and secure) base for something a bit different!

I used a charcoal wool that I purchased from Global Fabrics in May, and some black wool remnants that I had from stash were put to use for the collar, front band, pockets and armhole facings.  I added a fourth pocket because I like symmetry - and after looking at all those Chanel jumpsuits in my last post I was on a bit of a Chanel symmetry tangent.

I fully lined the jumpsuit.  I used the original pattern pieces less the armhole facings, plus 3mm extra on each seam allowance and 25mm added to the crotch length.  It slips on easily and is so comfortable to wear.

I made a few fitting alterations:
  • back neckline was bunching up, so I lowered it 5mm tapering to zero at the shoulder point.
  • front armhole was gaping, so I swung the excess into the side bust dart.
  • totally redrafted the pant portion! Finally I have got around to redrafting and fitting a trouser block, and I have transferred this to the pattern. Essentially the high hip is wider, the rise is way longer, and the leg angle is altered. 
And I need to off-centre the buttons a bit - the buttonholes are quite large and stretch open slightly when being worn - see how the front bands don't line up properly in the photo?  Don't let me forget to do that...

The thing with jumpsuits is you need some extra length in the centre seam for everyday things like reaching up, bending over and sitting down - you need to allow an extra 2cm in the waist to hip/crotch length to enable comfortable jumping around in your jumpsuit!

I'm reasonably happy with the back appearance.  I'm not really standing evenly here, but the below the hipline it does sit better when I shorten the back waist by 1 cm, however I need that extra ease for bending so I've compromised.  Plus looking backwards into the mirror gives me a tension headache after a while!

The pockets and collar and front bands were topstitched in Nr 80 weight thread, and staying true to the instructions I topstitched the pockets with an X - which I think is rather groovy:

And speaking of staying true to instructions...I have a few comments on that for my next post!
Happy sewing!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jumping into Jumpsuit Territory

I've been twiddling my thumbs on this 70's jumpsuit for a while, thinking will I, or won't I?  I've even alluded to it in a couple of posts, and readers have either a) laughed your head off at the silly styling, or b) remained tactfully silent!

But still this vision remained in my head of a cool jumpsuit - for some reason I have images in my head of Gucci in the 70's, or Carnaby Street in it's heyday.  I think with the right styling this one has the potential to be quite edgy.

Rather than the slinky black/bright Studio 54 style that is popular at the moment, I'm after more of a wintery 70's utility style similar to this Zara one:

or this one from Chanel:

Actually the Chanel Autumn 2011 collection is full of cropped jumpsuits with  low slung patch pockets (notice they are all virtually the same pattern but in different fabrics - which I thought was cheating a bit!):


Anyway I have decided to run with my gut instincts and proceed.  I mean if Peter was considering making a jumpsuit in sequins - why am I worried about making one in conservative charcoal wool for?!!

The final deciding factor was that, if I lay up carefully, I actually have enough fabric for the-jacket-I-originally-intended-to-make, as well as the jumpsuit. Nothing to lose then, right?

So I whipped up a quick calico out of an old sheet (which promptly ripped down the CF when I tried it on - hopefully that is not an omen):

Only the craziest most dedicated post images of themselves online like this!

It's not too bad - it just needs a bit more room, some major lowering of the back rise, and minor lowering of the back neckline.  And a tuck out of the front armhole.  Obviously my vision of cool is not yet realised.....

Can you tell I'm not entirely sure about this one?  I like the overall design, just not sure whether I have the aplomb to pull it off.  Stylewise, it's definitely off on a tangent for me, but I've already cut it out so there's no going back now!

Enough waffle - how about you - do you like to take style risks occasionally - step out of your comfort zone and into something new?  Do you dress seeking the security of peer approval, or do you knowingly accept that many will think your choices are weird?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sewing Gadgets - Are You a Minimalist or Maximalist?

Are you a sewing gadget minimalist?  Do you have few tools and sew on the smell of an oily rag - with a secondhand machine, a pair of scissors, using the kitchen table and a household iron?

Or are you a maximalist - with a dedicated sewing space, a machine with all the bells-and-whistles, an extensive assortment of presser feet, and a different cutting and pressing tool for every possible occasion?

I guess most of us probably lie somewhere in between, but I've decided after a year of dwelling in sewing blogland, that I'm definitely at the minimalist end of the spectrum - some of you guys are better equipped than my workplace! In contrast, I actually have very few tools despite working in the industry for 20 years.  I put this down to a few things:
  • Entrepreneurial poverty - when I was in business there were always more important things to pay for than fun new tools - like suppliers, or funding the next collection
  • The Kiwi number 8 wire mentality - outside New Zealand this is something like 'make do and mend' - there is usually an alternative cheaper way of achieving the same result, even if it takes longer!
  • I am also a bit of a scrooge!
  • Ignorance - I never knew some of these things existed
  • I had access to industry contractors with specialised equipment - pressers, buttons/buttonholes, fusing, etc
That's not to say I haven't seen a lot of cool things I'd love to own!  I've always wanted a proper sleeve board, an industrial iron, and a dedicated sewing space at home.  And constantly seeing lots of your covetable gadgets online is really tempting my want buds!

Anyway, here's my sewing gadget arsenal.  Warning - it's pretty unglamourous and uses a lot of ordinary household items!

Sewing things:
  • second hand industrial plain sewer 
  • presser feet - plain foot, R zip foot, teflon foot, invisible zip foot (that I never use as I get better results with an ordinary zip foot - if you look closely it's a little rusty!)
  • bobbin box with broken lid
  • machine oil
  • quick-unpic - never far from my side!
  • machine needles, I have plenty of handsewing needles too
  • thimble - used to stop beading needles wearing holes in my fingers and getting blood on almost-finished wedding gowns - yes, it has happened!  I used this trick to save my life the dress
  • screwdriver - time for a new one, don't you think?!
  • Brother Homelock 3-thread overlocker - my Mum's actually - when I was a student I kept borrowing it, until eventually she went out and bought a new one for herself!
  • Mum's old Elna Supermatic.  When I get it fixed I'll use it to do buttonholes and zig-zag at home, otherwise I just get these done at work.
  • I almost forgot my new lamp - now I can sew at night!

Cutting/Marking things:
  • Shears - standard issue Mundial ones from school - reverted to after my expensive Wiss ones 'disappeared'
  • Snips - also standard issue, rarely used - why didn't anyone nick those?!
  • Weights - I got these from school too - the welding class made them especially for us!  The artwork on them is my son's...
  • New - a Seam Allowance Guide!
  • The kitchen table for cutting, or the floor for cutting big things
  • Chalk pencils
  • Tailor's Chalk - I love how the box is so neatly packed and organised inside, although it's getting a bit empty now:  

  • I do have some pinking shears somewhere too...
Pressing things:
  • Ironing board - this is wobbly after a failed light-bulb changing incident...(not me!)
  • A Sunbeam domestic steam iron
  • Scraps of cloth for pressing - old pillowcases, lightweight wool, silk organza, or the cloth I am working with
  • Water
Patternmaking/Fitting things:
  • Paper scissors
  • Metre rule (metal)
  • Grading square
  • Tracing wheel
  • Pattern notchers
  • Pens and pencils
  • Magic Tape
  • Pins
  • Tape measures - I have several lying all over the place so there is always one on hand - theoretically!
  • Button size/conversion card - this freebie from a button company is surprisingly handy
  • Two Mannequins - one for fitting, one that now decorates the hallway
  • Roll of pattern paper - 120gms kraft:

That's my list, I think I've included everything - let's just say if I've missed something out it is stashed away and never used!

Now why am I showing you everything I own?  Because I was browsing sewing books in the library the other day and noticed quite extensive lists of equipment being recommended.  I thought a lot of it was quite specialised - and although nice to have, not what I'd call necessary for the average home sewer. If I was a beginner I would think it so expensive to start sewing I'd take up knitting instead!

I suppose I'm a firm believer that you don't need all the latest gadgets to sew well - perfectly acceptable results can be obtained with a few basic tools - and a little bit of number 8 wire!

Would you agree?  What's in your sewing toolkit - are you a maximalist or minimalist?  Do you have a few basic essentials, or is collecting sewing gadgets another one of your hobbies?!  

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Thing I Like About Buying Vintage Patterns Is...

...what you sometimes find within them!  Those little touches of sewing history that pop up now and then inside the pattern envelope never fail to make me smile.

For instance, this pattern piece complete with silky red tailors tacks:

Not to mention the chance to learn a foreign language!

And this one that came with the receipt still tucked inside - in 1963 Miss Humphrey lived not far from where I live today:

These relics personalise a pattern and make it more valuable to me, so I'll be keeping them in place.  Except maybe this one, that was "unchecked and in vintage condition" - I might give it some much needed TLC!

Or there is the opposite extreme - "still in factory folds":

Untouched inside.  Is that a bad sign - did they regret an impulsive purchase?  Did hubby say: "No honey, you are not making that!"  Should I take the hint before I cut into my expensive wool?  Mmm...I know this one is risky...

I wonder whose job it was to rubber stamp all these:

And this one shows signs of spending years in Auckland's humid climate - or maybe it was Monaco ;)

Actually damage like this is something I don't like, but it happens.

This one has rusty old dressmaker pins welded into place during the decades:

What about the 3mm wide cutting lines on this one - depending on what side of the line you cut, in this princess style you could end up with a size 12, or a size 16 - perhaps it is just as well it was never used!

But that wouldn't have mattered for this seamstress who wasn't the best at cutting along the cutting line anyway - or maybe she was rushing because she had to wear her new dress out that very night!

Most of these details are relatively nondescript, they just catch my eye and give a small connection to the person who used them before me.  To me this adds value.  And the poor unused ones in factory folds leave me a little sad, even though that apparently adds to their commercial value.

Have you found any interesting little details hidden amongst your vintage patterns?  And do they give you the warm fuzzies too?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

And the Gadget Giveaway winners are...

Today I printed out all 86 names and folded them up into a pile:

Then my 12 year old picked out five - this important decision took quite a while!

Do you recognise any of these?

So the five winners of Hollie's Seam Allowance Guide are...





and Tanit-Isis!

Congratulations all - I'll be in touch tomorrow, or you can email me directly at the address in the sidebar with your postal address, and I will send them on Wednesday.

Thanks all for entering - I wish everyone could have been a winner!

If you didn't win but would like your own handy-dandy Seam Allowance Guide, do check out Hollie's website for more information:

Happy cutting!