Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Burda 7942, from the burdamode website:
"Sewing level: easy. Burda sizes 36, 38, 40, 42, 44 The latest version of a classic - a blouse with a lapel/revers collar, section seams and fashionable gathering: view A with long cuffed sleeves, view B with short, gathered sleeves. Recommended fabric: Light-weight poplin, linen blends, cotton fabrics"

I bought the pattern because of the front styling. I do still quite like that. What I didn't like was the sizing. I think it is a bit big. I cut 38/12, a size smaller than my bust measurement suggested, but since I was using a stretch fabric, and the actual bust "finished garment" measurement written on the pattern said 39" for size 38, and my bust is 36"... it seemed like it should be OK. I suspect it is the usual problem of allowing the same actual ease in the smaller sizes as the bigger ones. However, I can't check this since somehow I have mislaid the part of the pattern where the finished garment sizes were printed. I also didn't find the pattern piece for the ties, but it must have been a small piece - I guess I threw it out by mistake!

I used a lightweight cotton shirting bought over the interweb from Emma One Sock. It's quite strange. Kind of cobwebby. Ms. One Sock herself told me it was "fashion forward" when I whinged about it to her. So that explains everything... It has a lot of stretch perpendicular to the stripe but none at all along the stripes. This made easing the back and front together quite tricky because I cut the front piece so that the stripes run across the shoulders. You can see the way the stripes run in this closeup. This is not the same grain direction as on the pattern but it seemed the only way to combine the stripes and the gathering at the front without getting very weirdie weirdie.

I couldn't really see how to make size adjustments in the gathered part, so after sewing the front and side-front together (ie sewing in the gathers - I tried out something called Seam Saver to bind the edge of the seam. It seems very nice and lightweight.), I pinned the body of the shirt together and then adjsuted it to fit. As well as taking in the waist and hips which I had thought I might need to do given my shape (1 size smaller below rib cage than above), I also adjusted the shape of the CB seam, taking in more at the waist. I also did think I had to bring the princess seams in a bit so I changed the button position and CF position to cope with this. I suppose this is probably the wrong thing to do, but with the curved shape of the front piece it seems to have worked out OK. I'm not sure it I like the non-collar stand style of this shirt. I realise now that all of the shirts in my wardrobe (except one) are not of this style.

There seemed a lot of sleeve to stuff into the armhole. I tried it and basted but then was quite relieved to find that the sleeves were really to wide for me, so I took out about a cm. This not only made it fit better but decreased the amount of extra fabric and made it possible to bring sleeve cap and armhole together.

I wouldn't really call this pattern "easy", because some fairly accurate stitching is required - for example in sewing the gathers neatly and attaching the casings for the ties. The result of the cotton cobweb fabric is surprisingly pleasant - being thin yet stretchy it is very comfortable for hot weather.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

T time for James

James and I ride a tandem. We ride it off road and on road to and from work. Sometimes we take the bike travelling. At the weekend we do a big food shop with Mountain Expedition panniers filled up with beer, beans and baps. The disadvantage of having a great weather shield on the front of your tandem is the front view, which tends to be a bit dull.

Not anymore! Now at weekends I have romantic european cafe-life views to enjoy. I just finished the third T-shirt I have made for James. What I have realised through the two other attempts is that tighter fitting shirts don't look that great on tall men, so I added about 4cm ease to the pattern. Here are some more pics: side, back.

The fabric was the interesting part of this exercise:

It was so expensive that I have forgotton how much it cost - a bad memory is the only way to make cutting into such things a possibility - but I know it was so much that I only bought a metre. I bought it from a lovely shop called "Elegance" in Nippori. It seems to sell only incredibly expensive beautiful fabrics! So I laid out the front and back of the shirt on the fabric and then realised there was no way to get even a single whole sleeve out of the remainder. I think the fabric was 150cm wide but James being so tall, there was just no way of getting it to work given the fact that the print on the fabric has a right way up. So that's when I started stitching little rectangles of fabric together. Each sleeve is of about 5 pieces and the neckline band is made from 3 pieces. The delightful part is that it really doesn't look any the worse for the patchwork effect, and I still managed to get a cute little velo at about the same place on each sleeve. So now I feel like I didn't waste quite so much money on the fabric - I had only a handful of tiny scraps left over after cutting out!

The fabric is a cotton knit, light-mid-weight and soft. It feels really lovely. It was a total pain because the edges curl. At the last minute, I doubled the seam allowances when cutting out (they were 0.25"), by drawing a new cutting line straight onto the fabric in chalk. I think it would have been hard work without this extra SA. The other problem was that the fabric did not always start the seam being fed through the sewing machine properly and had a habit of staying put and the machine then stitched a big knot instead of a nice neat row of stitches. The Janome Acufeed food helped but did not always irradicate this problem. On the other-hand the fabric has great stretch recovery which saved the fabric in these situations and also none of my seams of hems appeared at all stretched after steaming, which is unusual.

Other than the fabric adventures I didn't have problems constructing the shirt since I have done it twice before. Really I just wanted to share the nice pattern with you, to encourage you all to save up your money and then come shopping in Tokyo (although I think the fabric is a European import).


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

shorts in summer

I think it is in the name of fashion but in Tokyo the girls like to wear shorts in mid-winter and long johns or (and?) thick denim jeans under their dresses in summer. I don't have a photo of the latter but here is one of the former. I am more traditional and prefer to wear as little as possible in hot weather and as much as possible in the cold.

Summer is coming so I made a shorts version of Vogue 7481 previously used to make some lightweight blue jeans and some mid-weight black jeans.

First of all I altered the pattern a bit with the aim of improving fit compared to the previous version. This mean adding about a cm to the front crotch. I also slightly altered the shape of the front crotch and reshaped the inside leg and outside leg seams a bit so that the backs and fronts fitted together more perfectly. The waist band was redrafted to make into a smooth curve.

I chose a somewhat looser fit for the relaxed-style shorts, so I added to the side seams a bit - about a cm to each side seam at the hems tapering to nothing at the waistband. View C of this pattern does not have pockets or a yoke so I used the pattern pieces from View B as a guide to draft these onto my View C pattern which I have been adjusting for fit each time I make the trousers. Actually there are no rear pockets in any of the views so I took those from from View B for Vogue 8202. I used my RTW jeans as a guide for sewing the front pockets, sewing a full lining to the back of the pocket. What I did wrong was stitch the inner pocket on sideways. Rather than rip it out I opted to rotate the pocket piece by 90 degrees. This resulted in a pocket that was a cm or so shorter than it should have been. The rear pockets are also quite small so it doesn' t balance so badly!

The fabric is a fairly lightweight stretch denim but it is seemed very dense. I used size #30 thread rather than "jeans stitch" thread for the top stitching (size #60 in the bobbin), and used a lot of different needles, ranging from size 12 microtex, several sizes of denim needles to size 16 denim twin needles, depending which thread I was using and how many layers I was stitching through. Since I wanted a comfortable fit I interfaced the waistband with fusible tricot to keep the stretch. Partly because of this I also added belt loops - just in case the shorts decide to fall down.

They may look sloppy but I really like these shorts....