Thursday, December 31, 2015

Missoni Knit Sweater

Having already bought the fabric in Harrogate at the start of December, I convinced Pops to buy me this sweater for my birthday (27 December), so the pressure was on to complete the garment before we departed for Scotland on 20th December. As it turned out it only took about 24 hours real time, so was finished in time. I did the pattern work one evening and finished the sweater by the next evening. 

Because of the lovely pattern of the fabric I decided a plain structure was best, so I adjusted my sweater pattern to have no taper in arms and no shaping in body. I also cut a "cowl" neck, which is basically a big roll-neck.

Wanting the stripes to go across the chest meant cutting on the cross grain, but this had the bonus that I need not make cuffs and instead put all the ends on the selvage. The sales person thought 1.5m would be enough, but I always buy more so had 2m. Even that was not enough for my original plan, which was to have the same stripe across body and arms. But it all fitted with the body pieces using one side of the width and the arms and neck the other. In the end I think this turned out for the best, as now the full patterning of the fabric can be admired. 

One interesting thing is that the fabric stretches a lot almost like it had been cut on the bias. This means the lack of shaping was a good move, as the sweater anyway falls to the contours of the body, but it also means that the length of the finished garment is somewhat variable depending on its mood. Thus sometimes I roll up the arms to make cuffs. It is quite fun because the pattern at the end of the arms of course matches the pattern of the base of the rollneck.

Dressing gown for J

Made from jigsaw fleece bough at the HIC show.

A quote from the first time I used this pattern to make jimjams, "Simplicity 7045. Made Large size (should have made Medium but pattern is L-XL)" It's deja vu all over again! So ... the pattern was somewhat too wide, and I took out an inch from each shoulder seam. It could be a little more snug around the neck so I could have taken another 0.5-1" out down the back at the back of the neck, although maybe would need to put some back at the underarm, which would have been a rather more complicated adjustment. I added 5" in total to the length, 3 above the waist and 2 below. We positioned the waist loops and pockets according to personal preference of the victim. James wanted lots of wrap around, so I added an inch or two to the cross-over flap it at the front, and adjusted the other pieces (collar, facing) to work with this. I thought the sleeves were right, but that's because I misunderstood the construction which involved a quadruple thickness cuff at the bottom. So, they were a few inches short, but managed to work out a different style that can be folded up manually. The pattern says something like "easy" on it, but I think this is the largest thing I have ever made, which made for quite an interesting challenge. Fabric mustn't be stressed while sewing, and so checking that bits of it weren't caught under a chair, wrapped round a knee or stuck in a cat was quite important. Glad to have lovely large sewing machine for this project! 

The pattern seems very wasteful on fabric as each collar and facing is a single piece. I was using James' John Lewis dressing gown so I copied its pieced collar and lack of the upper facing around the shoulders. The fleece is actually a bit thinner and more drapey than I had expected (or perhaps with the whole garment hanging off the shoulders and neck they could do with some reinforcement), so I probably should have included the upper facing, but, like the collar, cut it in pieces. 

Hat for James

Somehow the photos have not yet been taken, which isn't at all helpful. A fashion show is long overdue!

Had previously made nobby nobheads for j and J. My one was a bit tight, although lovely and warm and so I ended up giving it to my pea-headed sister in law. However, thanks to said sister in law, we had developed a beanie pattern. Last winter I made a version for me out of wind pro (not blogged, oops!) and it has done very well for walking, cycling, running and also every day wear.

James complained much about his nobby because, although partially windproof the lower cuff is power stretch and lets the wind through, so it is not great for cycling and even blows off when the wind gets in under the top part! J and I have rather similarly sized heads so since my beanie is plenty big enough for me, I used the same pattern for J. He cycles at the front of the tandem in the wind, so I made the centre piece and bottom cuff with the tougher Powershield remnants. The sides are windpro fleece. The inside of the cuff is a powerdry-like fabric that I bought a length of at the closing down sale of a local walking shop in Ingleton (maybe that haul of cut price bargains should be another blog post!). 

Update; New Year's Eve photo shoot: J and j beanies...

Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show

After a fun shopping visit to Harrogate in November (where I found one fabric store, one craft store and a sewing machine store all one one street, as well as a cornucopia of other exciting non-stitching related shops) I looked up to see what was on at the HIC, and discovered the Knitting & Stitching Show was just a couple of weeks away!

The show was amazing, and huge and I bought quite a lot of fabric. As should be clear from the name, the show wasn't all about fabric, but there was quite a range - mostly it was not the super expensive fabrics, and quite a few seemed to have special deals for the show. I met James for lunch in town and offloaded some bags on to him and then went back in for more.  The only downside was that I seemingly caught a nasty cold off the crowds, and seem to have been not quite 100% ever since, which hasn't been at all good for the training plan! Then again it has been raining almost continuously so not much has been missed in the way of outdoor adventures. 

I should have photographed more of the shops to recall their names, but I did take a few snaps. 

At Higgs&Higgs (Gloucester, but looks to have an online store) I bought 2m of Missoni knit for 40UKP. That was the most expensive purchase of the day, but was not a mistake as it has already been made up into a lovely sweater. What would have been a mistake would be trusting the sales person who thought that 1.5m would be enough!

The Shuttle is amazingly local (but no website) being in Shipley, and I think it was there that I made 2 purchases. One was a quite lightweight slippery knit in a wonderful pattern. Not sure it is often warm enough here to wear this weight as an outer-layer, so it might have been a somewhat foolish purchase, especially as  I still have a lot of lightweight clothes leftover from living in steamy Japan. I think I also bought there 5m of jigsaw print fleece. This has been sewn up into a dressing gown for James. 

I am not sure what I bought at Simply Fabrics of London, but was moved enough to take a photo, so must have been something...  

Let's see if I can remember all the other purchases.

There was a London based store selling quite low quality fabrics for almost nothing. I bought a length of some kind of fuzzy polyester, but totally missed a trick as most of their stuff would have been great for making muslins of one kind or another. 

Another store sold end of rolls and didn't know quite what they were selling, but did the salesman was doing his best to inform people before they bought by enthusiastic application of the burn test. I got into conversation with him, and ended up with what he thought was moleskin, but it was so much cheaper than moleskin I have found online that I have some doubts...  

Somewhere towards the end of the day I bought some synthetic red velvet. I am not sure why this was a good idea at the time. I think it might just have been brightly coloured yet cheap. Also towards the end of the day I found some nice, but very dark, brushed cotton for making pajamas with. It was quite expensive and a bit narrow so I was a bit tentative over the quantity and I'm not sure if I got enough for full pajamas for James. Might have to be just a top, or bottom, or for me! I also found some stretch cotton in dark maroon that should work for another pair of trousers for me in my making-trousers-that-fit odyssey.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

'Pants Class'

A few months before we left Japan, I signed up on PatternReview for a 'pants class' with Sarah Veblen. Sarah is American, so this is pants as in trousers not pants as in knickers. I read the material and watched the videos, and bought some very cheap fabric to make the muslins, but didn't have time for anything else, as we were starting to get quite busy with things-to-do-before-we-leave-the-country. We moved to the UK in Dec 2013, but the poor sewing machine had hardly any action as we were living a confined sokobox lifestyle at my Dad's house.

By 2015 we wer settled in our new house, and almost all my trousers had holes in. My stretch jeans pattern already fitted well, so another pair of these made the trip to Japan in January possible. A little later on, a pair of pajama bottoms were made. Then in July, spurred on by a lack of unholey trousers for our trip to the USA in September I finally got around to doing the class properly. Luckily the videos are all still online (hurrah for PatternReview!), and I was able to follow it all through. It was a fairly enormous amount of work, making patterns, cutting them out, sewing them together, making changes, making new patterns etc. Eventually one gets pleased enough with the fit (or runs out of muslin fabric) and starts to make things using nicer fabric, that may be wearable.

The 'slacks' style which the class focussed on is too, well, American, but I've arrived at a non-stretch pattern that fits really well, and is super comfortable, and a stretch pattern that almost fits really well (I reckon one more iteration is required - just needs a bit adding to the front crotch and the same taking off the back). But out of all this I have 3 wearable pairs of trousers: 1 pair of orange cottons, 1 pair of black stretchy fuzzy stuff, and 1 pair of blue flowery stretch woven. I also have a pair of tartan trousers that are wearable, but being a bit short in the back, not that comfortable for all day every day. I have also patched up my other trews, and am wearing them out at home...

I'd hoped there would be photos of all these new trews naturally occurring through our trip to the USA, but James hardly took my photo, and when he did, I was wearing shorts (which, incidentally I notice are wearing through at the arse).

I'm not sure that fabric one buys in fabric shops is as durable as it ought to be, but I suppose it is good to wear one's clothes until they fall apart...


Addendum: I see my last post was made in February after the trip to Japan, and shows the fabric haul from that trip. The blue flowers shown there became the blue flowery stretch woven trews mentioned above. The green stripes on the right has also been used to make a new pair of 'carpet trousers' for James. So I suppose I have to say that, so far, this year has been completly pants!! ( black stretch jeans, PJ bottoms, carpet trews, tartan trews, black fuzz trews and blue flowery trews.)

Addendum 2: New Year's Eve Photo Shoot!!!

Non-stretch tartan trews. Good in parts. Nice legs, front OK, but not enough back crotch depth thus hard to sit down in.

After some adjustments, non-stretch cotton. Woo hoo. Super comfortable - hope to use this pattern again!

Stretch fuzzy black. Fit quite well. Very comfortable.

Stretch cotton - challenging the same pattern with a tighter fit.
Not too awful perhaps, but in wear, crotch position is clearly too far forward. Need another go! ;-)

Monday, February 16, 2015

ShoPping in Japan

On our recent visit to Japan, we were lucky enough to stay in Tokyo and also have enough time off to visit a few shopPs! Staying in Asakusa, we were just a short trip from the fabric district of Nippori. We spent about an hour there one morning, but it was a bit miserable as it was snowing quite hard. I bought some stretch fabric, from which I hope to make some leggings for running/cycling.

Later, we went to Shinjuku and I spent a large part of the day in Okadaya. Here's the haul:

Lots of Japanese thread, some stretch flowers for trousers, some brushed cotton for pJ bottoms and some ethnic  upholstery fabric to make some more "carpet trousers" for James. Let's hope I bought enough fabric this time, as sending James off to pick up an extra metre, as happened last time, would be quite a long trip.

Must take a spare check-in bag next time! 

And here are the finished carpet trews:

Black jeans for jules

Having been worn almost all of last year while we were living in boxes, my Jan 2010 jeans started to get holes in. I patched the knee, but with an upcoming trip to Japan, I thought it was time for a new pair. They are made from the beautiful stretch black denim used last to make a pair of jeans for James. There is still some left - haven't measured it to see who gets the last pair, or whether it will have to be shorts. 

The pictures show the jeans nicely creased after the two week trip to Japan.

I used the same pattern as last time, but got confused when it came to the waist band as their weren't any pattern pieces in the bag. Despite the blog, I still fail to write things down and so end up swearing at flakey past-me. Eventually I thought perhaps I'd used the pieces from the Marfy pattern, and I think still think that's the case, although I think that I took some off the length even last time. So I cut the pieces and fitted them to the leg pieces

, tacked them in place and tried them on. I decided to have a go at improving the shape at the back to avoid the gap that tends to appear at the spine. 

An interesting shaped back pattern piece resulted and I was skeptical that it would work, but it did! Note to dimwit future me - the front waistband piece in the bag is still about a cm too long! I think a little off the width off the leg pieces is probably in order, as I ended up easing the waistband somewhat more than might be ideal. 

With the upcoming trip to Japan, I took the tori in Kamakura as inspiration for the design on the back pocket.

Helen's Penguin PJs

In December I made some PJs for Helen, my sister in law. She's got long limbs and complains about trousers not being long enough. Now I'm living in the same country my excuses for not making her something that fits have run out. My women's PJ pattern is Jalie 2686 which has a huge number of sizes, so I got Helen to send me some measurements, and picked the nearest size. Unlike me, Helen is normal in that she's the same sized top and bottom. I made adjustments to the pattern according to the difference between the pattern pieces that are closest for me and her and between the measurements of me and her. This included lengthening arms and legs, decreasing crotch length and decreasing the width of the jacket. The thing about the pattern is that it has details at the trouser hem and cuffs, which makes it not entirely simple to alter the length of the limbs after the garment is finished. So I just finished it off and hoped my calculations were good enough.

The fabric is a penguin patterned brushed cotton which I bought from a UK shop on the internets. I'd been assuming that I would no longer be able to import fabric due to the high import duties in the UK compared to Japan, but the fabric seems so relatively expensive here, even online, that it might not make much difference! 

Helen says they fit, and she wore them while visiting us over Christmas, but hasn't sent me a photo, so perhaps they're being used up as dusters now. :-)

Luckily I had enough fabric left to make some PJ bottoms for myself - both my pairs from Feb 2009 are now in the bin after ripping on the rear, although the jacket is still in reasonable condition. I suppose I ought to take a photo of the new pair! I also bought some fabric for another pair of PJ trousers while in Japan, so I should soon be back to having 2 pairs again.