Patterns and Pants

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Dressmaking can be a challenge when trying to get a perfect fit.  One of the best methods I know is to disassemble a garment which you love and fits well and then use the pieces to make a customised pattern.  I did this several years ago with a sleeveless, collared shirt and have made numerous shirts from the pattern.  Here are a couple of examples.

This time it was the turn of my white cropped pants which I have had for about 9 years.  They are starting to get a bit thin in places.

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I generally use non iron-on interfacing for tracing the pattern. It is reasonably sturdy and stands up to repeated uses. However, on Sunday I discovered that I did not have any left so I had to think laterally.  I had a scramble through my stash and found several large pieces which had been part of a donation to Boomerang Bags but were not suitable.  The fabric is medium-weight, cream synthetic with no stretch so I decided to use it for the pattern pieces which worked perfectly.  It was easy to add markings and instructions, too.

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This is the fabric that I had earmarked for my first attempt with the pattern.  About 3 metres of a medium-weight cotton drill that I had bought last year for $4 at the local Salvos thrift shop.

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I am very pleased with the result.

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The only variation I made from the original was not to add belt loops.  I never wear a belt with these pants and the absence of the loops makes for a smoother silhouette.

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I call them my ladybird pants and you certainly won’t lose me in a crowd when wearing these.

I have a black, fitted t-shirt which I will be able to wear with them and I plan to make a black linen shirt using the pattern I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Now that I am happy with the construction and fit of these pants, I am working on a pair of lightweight dark navy linen ones.  They will be full-length rather than cropped.

I have several sewing projects underway or planned and I will show you more in future blog posts.

A Gift of Love

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A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

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The first block completed.

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All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

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The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

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It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.

Sewing Something Different

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While my sewing is generally bags or clothes, occasionally it can be something completely different.

Last week was one such moment.  I decided to make a cover for my newly-acquired overlocker.  I also made a matching one for the sewing machine.

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Covers completed and on the machines.

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These were all made from salvaged secondhand scraps from my stash.  The one for the overlocker was the quilted side of a decorative pillowcase.  This meant that it had enough body to stand alone.  The sewing machine has a hard plastic case so I simply made a fitted slipcover for the case so that it would match the overlocker one.

As well as looking pretty they do the very practical task of keeping the ever-present dust off the machines.

Completed Quilt

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A month ago I wrote a post about making another quilt.  You can read about it here.  Once again, I had a deadline because it needed to be completed by early this week as it was a retirement gift for a work colleague.

I met the deadline and here is the finished quilt.

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This one included some new fabric bought specifically for the project as I simply did not have enough of the chosen colour palette.

I have been busy for the past week or so with finishing the quilt as well as working and being away from home for a couple of nights.  However, it is now the end of the working week and no specific engagements for the weekend.  The weather forecast does not include rain nor super-hot weather so GMan and I are looking forward to spending some time outdoors, particularly getting vegetable gardens back in order and prepared for planting now that the extreme heat is behind us.

I hope to bring you some updates from the home front before too long.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you have planned.

Pretty Patches

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About 3 weeks ago I wrote about starting to prepare the fabric squares to make a baby quilt for a work colleague.

This project was set aside for a couple of weeks while I concentrated on the Boomerang bags but in the last few days I made some real progress.

I needed 180 squares and here they are all cut out and sorted in preparation for sewing.

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Each block consists of 9 squares sewn together and then cut into 4 squares which are turned, re-arranged and sewn back together.  Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of the step-by-step process.

The next step is to arrange the finished blocks and finally, sew them all together.

Today I finished the patchwork.

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All of the fabric has been gifted or thrifted.  I need to buy some batting and then assemble the quilt.  I have a dark pink sheet which I bought from an op shop some time ago that I intend to use for the backing.  I will make the binding from a doona cover that belonged to one of my granddaughters.  It will match some of the fabric used in the patchwork.

While it is far from perfect, I know that it will be loved and appreciated.

A Deadline

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A bit quiet on the blogging front as I have been busy sewing.  As always, once I get started on a sewing project I just want to keep going.  However, this is more than just my own interest which is driving me – it is a deadline.

Sunday 28th January will see the official launch of Maleny Boomerang Bags.  In order to make this a successful event, we want to have has many completed bags as possible available on the day.

I have been doing my bit and have finished 10 so far.  Here are some of them.

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I have more straps made and bags cut out so hope to be able to add to that number before Sunday.

You would think that would be relatively easy since tomorrow is Australia Day and we have a 3 day weekend but there is the small matter of the Australian Film Festival.  This festival is an annual event hosted by the Maleny Film Society and we will be attending 4 films over 2 days as well as a couple of additional sessions so I am not sure how much sewing will get done.

To my Australian readers – what are your long weekend plans?

Sorting the Squares

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Tonight I pulled out some fabric which I have set aside for patchwork.  In one of my previous fits of organising, I decided to precut some 5 inch squares.  These are stored in bags and are sorted by colour.  Any pieces of fabric which are destined to be patchwork squares are also in the bags.  You can see them here on the third shelf.

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I am going to make a baby quilt for one of my work colleagues who is due in a couple of months.  Since she knows she is having a girl, I decided to use some of the pink fabric along with a bit of purple and green.

These are some of the squares already cut.

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Some of the other fabric waiting to be cut up.

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The pattern I will using is called Disappearing 9 patch.  It is simple yet effective in my opinion.  You can read about it in more detail here.

I am inspired to get started on it seriously and hope to do so on the weekend.  My sewing machine has been serviced and I picked it up this afternoon so now there is nothing holding me back.

 

Fit to Wear

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There are many ways of approaching the goal of producing less waste but for me, one of the most obvious things is to consume less and make do with what you have.

Mending, repairing and refashioning will significantly extend the life of items, save them from landfill for longer and of course, reduce the need to purchase a replacement.

Here is a practical example that I did this morning in less than an hour.

This is GMan’s sweatshirt which he wears on the weekend when gardening, mowing and painting as you can see.  The cuffs and lower band are all frayed and badly stretched but the body of the garment is still relatively sound.

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When I said that I could replace the cuffs, he commented how much he liked the fit of it – although I don’t think ‘fit’ is actually the right word.  So, The first thing I did was to make a pattern for future reference.

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I use lightweight interfacing for this purpose and have a roll of it.  I find the patterns cut on interfacing are durable and unlikely to tear.

There are only 2 pieces required – one for the front and back (with different necklines marked) and one for the sleeves.

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Next, I had a dig in my stash of ribbing to find a suitable piece.  I found some bottle green which was exactly enough for the lower band and sleeve cuffs – no wastage at all.

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I then found a piece of black for the neckband and set to work.  I will not try to explain how the ribbing is attached as there are plenty of good instructions which can be found using Google.

The final result.

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GMan is happy and I am sure this will see plenty more wear in the garden.

 

Making Progress

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In amongst various other jobs I managed to do some sewing this weekend.  I had some patchwork blocks I had made ages ago with nothing particular in mind so I decided to put them together to create a small quilt.  It will be given to a work colleague who is pregnant with a baby girl.

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Here it is draped over the ironing board with the batting and backing attached.  I have begun stitching it together by machine stitching along the joins of some of the blocks.

I know that my techniques are nothing like quilters would use, but it is made entirely with scraps, offcuts and thrifted fabrics and a generous dose of love and care.

 

Finally Finished

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I finished making a top for myself which has been a long, drawn-out process.  I bought the material about 3 years ago because it caught my eye.

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Am I happy with it?  Not entirely.

Will I wear it?  Definitely.

What is there not to like?  It is a bit on the short side but still wearable.  The style is too boxy so I would not make it again.  I would prefer something with more shaping through the body of the garment.  However, the fabric I used is a knit but does not have a lot of stretch so probably would not work in a more fitted style.

I am happy with the final finish on the v-neck which was my own creation.  I did have 3 attempts before I was satisfied.

I have been making clothes for the best part of 50 years but I still struggle with sewing knit fabrics, in particular, getting a professional-looking finish on necklines and hemlines.  I have never owned an overlocker and continue to vacillate about the value of them.  Would it make a real difference to sewing knit fabrics?

Since the spotted fabric did not have a lot of stretch, I managed a hem that looked acceptable.  I then turned my attention to a plain navy top which I bought in Canada.  It ticked almost all of the boxes – navy, v-neck, fitted style – the only thing wrong is that it was too long on me.  It was quite a bargain so I decided to buy it despite the length as I felt that I would be able to shorten it.

I did the alteration but due to the fact that the fabric has some elastane in it and consequently more stretch, the finish is less than perfect.  Once it was pressed it is OK and I will wear it but I still feel a degree of disappointment in the result.

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I really want to be able to make my own v-neck and scooped neck fitted knit tops in a range of sleeve lengths from sleeveless  and short sleeved to 3/4 sleeve and long sleeved versions that are the correct length in the body for me.  This would allow me to choose colours and designs that I like and not be limited to the range which some fashion buyer has deemed will be available this year.

Would an overlocker help, do you think?  All comments gratefully accepted.

Meanwhile, I will go back to sewing garments from several pieces of woven fabric which are awaiting my attention.